Friday, May 15, 2009

Christel, Book Review, *Wetlands, *Charlotte Roche

Okay, let’s get this one out of the way. I consider myself a feminist and I do agree that women are held up to ridiculous standards of cleanliness and beauty. I dislike shaving, plucking, flossing, moisturizering, but I do it all despite my dislike of forced standards. I would love to read a book which pushes these boundaries and truly explores what it means to be a woman today; however Wetlands is not this book. It is one of the most disgustingly repulsive and unsettling of books. Reading this book is like trying to avoid eye contact with the creepy man at a party who appears to have some sort of monstrous social disease. Yes, you try to quickly extricate yourself from the situation, but still find yourself inexplicably draw to him. There are some (okay, quite a few) scenes that I am too horrified to visualize, let alone recant here, but here is a fairly modest one to give you all an idea of the gross-out level. At one point, Helen (the heroine) decides that it is a great idea to take some sips from a water bottle and then spit all of it back into the bottle, and then offer a glass of this spit-water to one of her nurses. Her motivation…because it is sort of like French kissing the nurse! I believe that Helen has some very serious mental disorders, which is why I feel compelled to question all the “Wetlands is a modern feminist manifesto” reviews. In my opinion, a more likely comparison is a gross-out version of Girl, Interrupted. However, this book does satisfy one of my main “I-sort-of-like-this-book” criteria…it made me feel something; albeit more unhinged than happy. I love reading books which make me feel sad, angry, loving, enlightened, bitter, etc. just as long as they make me feel something other than bored. I can only recommend this book to those with a strong constitution and possibly an even stronger stomach.


moonrat said...


This is basically how I felt. You put it into words so well.

What was REALLY frustrating for me is Roche so NEARLY makes a point that would have justified the entire thing (maybe). But then... she drops the ball. You come to the end feeling no more enlightened than when you began. Instead, you just feel a little gross and like you're wishing you hadn't spent several hours forced to think about how scabs taste (among other things. No avocado will be the same to me again.).

Mya Barrett said...

I almost...almost...had this book on my list. I'm glad now that I didn't add it because my constitution is about as strong as those swooning women in corsets. Okay, maybe I'm not that bad, but I could definitely see being put off of a meal because of mental images.

I have to wonder sometimes what people think makes a good feminist, let alone a good feminist novel.

christel said...

Those are great questions. One of my all time favorites is The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Marilyn French comes to mind as well. Of course, I would love to think of a more recent feminist novel. Perhaps, The Hunger Games (in a roundabout way) might qualify as well. I think a great feminist novel pushes the boundaries, but still allows the readers to relate to the character(s). I find it extremely difficult to relate to Helen...on any level.