So many supposedly scandalous books just aren’t. American Psycho was one exception – I told my sister “Don’t read this, it’s shocking” (of course this was just the spur she needed to do the exact opposite).
At last another book has left me shocked and speechless. It is called Wetlands. If you are at all prudish or squeamish, go no further and certainly don’t read it. As the author Charlotte Roche says in an interview ‘It should make you blush’. Cor blimey, it does that. People have even fainted at public readings.
It doesn’t take long for you to realise you ain’t in Kansas, Dorothy. Wetlands (in German it’s Feuchtgebiete, translated as Wetlands, or Moist Patches) starts with the line “As far back as I remember, I’ve had hemorrhoids”. The narrator 18 year old Helen Memel is lying in hospital after an operation on the said piles. She reflects on the life of her body. In microscopic detail that will leave the squeamish on the floor.
The book has been called pornographic – but the revelatory discussions on hygiene are too coolly explicit to be titillating. It’s physically dirty rather than naughty sexy dirty.
It is new, it is brutal and am reading it aghast (but unable to stop).
By the by, the avocado image on the cover reminded me of Christine Leov-Lealand’s book Avocado : an erotic adventure of spirit and sensuality. Leov-Lealand became popular and a tad controversial for her steamy New Zealand erotic novels (one of the few times when you’ll find the words NZ and erotic spliced together in unholy matrimony). Who could resist a book tagged as a “hot wet novel that simmers on the edge of reality – full of secrets and seductions, dreadlocks and drums”.
Have you read anything that has shocked or surprised you enough to stop reading? Or are you utterly unflappable?