Friday, September 9, 2011

"Wetlands" by Charlotte Roche. A Review of Sorts

Confession: I don't really read contemporary fiction. Like, at all. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the novels I've read that were written after 1990. It's that bad. I have a weird prejudice against the post-post modern. What do I mean by post-post modern? Well, I mean a certain writing style that almost always comes off somewhat (or very) revolting, nihilistic, crass, indifferent, or unncessesarily "angsty" or hebephrenic. Especially the hebephrenic part. Or maybe I just like that word. Either way.

The good news is, I realize I'm being quite myopic. (today is add-to-your-sophisticated-english-vocabulary-day, in case you were not aware...) I realized that it's just not fair for me to make blanket judgements like the one I made in first paragraph of this post. I am willing to broaden my horizons and read a few contemporary novels, so...

I started with this book...

For one as jaded as I, it was probably the worst choice I could have made, because the hebephrenia reaches almost surreal levels in this book. Nevertheless, I must admit, that I couldn't put it down. For all of the squirmingly uncomfortable passages, this book has a lot to say about identity formation and the emotional landscape of a young woman (she could be any young woman, really) who learns early that nobody can make her feel anything that she does not allow herself to feel. This book is also about how the visceral, sexual, psychological, and spiritual components of ourselves make us who we are. No one part of us is more important than another. Finally (but not really, 'cause there's so much more one could say), this book is about the female anatomy-- the phobias and misconceptions that  modern cultures have built up around the female body. This book is a rejection of all of those, and a celebration of the female form and female sexuality. It's an exploration of gender politics that is mundane, yet has universal relevance, and is remarkably candid.

I recommend this book to any woman (or man) who thinks they're willing to dump a lot of the horse crap they've been taught about what is "feminine" out the window, whether it pertains to conduct, gender roles, or sexuality.

I'm looking forward to my next big gamble with contemporary fiction, now. I was recently told I should read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Scteyngart. I just might do that. The other one I was recommmended is   Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, which isn't uber recent--written in 1973--but also very contemporary. We shall see!


  1. I love this review, and your admission of bias. I'm not a fan of Roche, but I might read this simply because you've piqued my interest.

  2. Oh that looks fun. As someone who has never been femenine, and whose snark is often perceived as nihilism, I feel an affinity for this book already! (I found you through the Write on Edge weekend linky by the way).



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