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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Well, It Sure Ain’t Erotica

I couldn’t resist the marketing for Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands. I’m a big fan of both smut and literature; so with the tagline, “is it smut or literature” I was intrigued.

Wetlands is narrated by 18-year-old Helen, in hospital after a painful operation on an infected haemorrhoid. To pass the time, she reflects on her relationship with her body and her sexual history, in extremely graphic detail. Helen rejects societal preoccupation with the body’s “dirt” by eschewing hygiene, and exposing/touching/tasting/smelling all of her body’s secretions and emissions. Reacting to expectations that she repress her burgeoning sexuality, Helen has as much sex with as many partners as possible. But this isn’t just a cautionary tale against parental repression of sexuality: Helen’s family has managed to remain silent about her mother’s failed attempt to kill herself and Helen’s baby brother. The more Helen tries to convince us of her strength and invulnerability, the more tragic and disturbed she is revealed to be.

I find it hard to believe this book has been criticized as failed erotica. Like Chuck Palahniuk’s equally disturbing Snuff, just because a book is full of sex doesn’t mean the author’s trying to sexually arouse the reader. Rather, Roche’s intent is to provoke a reaction, and man, does she succeed. I’m very open-minded, and far from faint at heart, but the book really made me uncomfortable. I felt a little nauseous when I was reading, and when I finished I made a beeline for a long, hot shower. But, unlike the profound distress of the novel’s young heroine, my discomfort was short-lived. Well, relatively short-lived.

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14 Comments:

OpenID ourlittlefunnybunny said...

Sounds like a good read to me!

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:56 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

Um not sure what that anonymous comment is all about above me....But anywho....
This sounds like an interesting read.

4:51 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

and you in your delicate condition and all reading such smut.

would expect nothing less love....

11:07 PM  
Blogger kgirl said...

I'm so not a prude, but I'll probably skip it. Funny, my tolerance for smut was always higher when pregnant.

I watched Zack and Miri make a porno this weekend, and also felt vaguely uncomfortable. What the hell? I need spring, pronto.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I read about this book in the Globe a few weeks ago and I just thought: Meh. It just seems like gross-out stuff desigend to titilate - I have no interest at all.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I also read the reviews, which I think is enough for me. Did you read Russel Smith's take on saturday?

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:47 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Hmm... sounds interesting in that disturbing type of way. I'm not sure my frame of mind right now would be up for it.

12:31 AM  
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12:11 PM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

I'm sorry but I have to agree with Anonymous.

Anywho...I think that any book that provokes a strong reaction has accomplished an important goal.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

You're attracting some interesting comments tonight.
That book just sounds gross. As I always tell the kids, no one wants to hear someone talk about poop.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:37 AM  
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