The book is a headlong dash through every crevice and byproduct, physical and psychological, of its narrator's body and mind. It is difficult to overstate the raunchiness of the novel.
Wetlands opens in a hospital room after an intimate shaving accident. It gives a detailed topography of Helen's hemorrhoids, continues into the subject of anal intercourse and only gains momentum from there, eventually reaching avocado pits as objects of female sexual satisfaction and - here is where the debate kicks in - just possibly female empowerment.
Clearly the novel has struck a nerve, catching a wave of popular interest in renewing the debate over women's roles and image in society.
©2009 HarperCollins Publishers; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
Being a 48 year old male, I'm probably not the demographic for this book. But I loved it. I was grossed out by some of Helen's hygiene choices. I had to ask my wife and both my 20 and 22 year old daughters about some of Helen's actions to make sure it wasn't normal. I think a lot of Helen's actions were as a result of PTSD, mixed with female empowerment.
"Not just a dirty story"
The author, Charlotte Roche is a German media personality. She's written one of the most original (and shocking) books about human and female sexuality you have read.
Some of it is gross, some of it is sexy; but all of it is real.
The protagonist is clearly a disturbed young woman, claiming her place in the world and her sexuality, while still craving her fairy-tale ending.
It explores themes of the sex-negative West. The protagonist is shockingly unhygienic (to me, anyway); but it illustrates our complete obsession with sanitising every part of the sexual experience -- and even life itself. After all, life is messy; sex is messy.
This book is not just a dirty story. It's a coming of age book of our time. I'd love to hear your response.
I like Marmite, but cannot recommend this book. It is well written and narrated but is just crude. I cannot understand the motivation for writing such a book other than just to shock, but in the end the shock turns to boredom. Certainly should not be in the erotic section, perhaps the neurotic would be more apt.
An extended account of bottom surgery in a young woman. Comprehensive anal introspection with local diversions. Not for the squeamish
"What The .......?!"
I seriously have no idea what the point of this story is.
It is utterly grotesque, but weirdly compelling - I didnt dislike it as such, but at the end I was left thinking 'Why did I listen to that?!'.
"Sex and Surgery"
A thoroughly mixed up heroine (gets herself sterilised at 18)who could hardly be more sexually driven. The anatomical explorations rather dampen the erotic effect and the book meanders through the later stages to a quite memorable ending.
"One of the great combos"
I am already on my third time with Wetlands. Charlotte Roche's chaotically promiscuous narrator teeters delightfully between tragic and hilarious - and always finds something to say which is as poignant as it is disturbing.
The only other novel I know like Wetlands is Melissa Panarello's 'One hundred strokes of the brush' (another novel about a teenage girl trying out sex for the first time). Charlotte Roche is funnier, more outrageous, and hugely more believable than '100 strokes'.
Emila Fox has one of the great voices for audiobooks (clear, measured, informed). But Ms. Fox also has a vocal presence precisely poised between kittenish and comedic which perfectly fits Charlotte Roche's troubled, friendly, challenging narrator.
There is too much going on in this novel to listen to more than an hour or two at a single sitting. The novel demands repeated listening, but in relatively small bursts. In many ways it is more like poetry than a 'story'.
The novel won't be for everybody. There is a lot of sex (some of it rather sad, though none of it is deliberately nasty). There is a lot of physicality, and rather more fluids than many readers will find easy to stomach. 'Wetlands' isn't pornographic - if anything, it is anti-pornographic; but if pornography upsets you, you will make heavy weather of this novel.
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