With more than one million copies sold in Germany and rights snapped up in 27 countries, Wetlands is the sexually and anatomically explicit novel that is changing the conversation about female identity and sexuality around the world.
Helen Memel is an outspoken 18-year-old, whose childlike stubbornness is offset by a precocious sexual confidence. She begins her story from a hospital bed, where she’s slowly recovering from an operation and lamenting her parents’ divorce. To distract herself, Helen ruminates on her past sexual adventures in increasingly uncomfortable detail, taking the listen on a sensational journey through Helen’s body and mind. Punky alienated teenager, young woman reclaiming her body from the tyranny of repressive hygiene (women mustn’t smell, excrete, desire), bratty smartass, vulnerable, lonely daughter, shock merchant, and pleasure seeker - Helen is all of these things and more, and her frequent attempts to assert her maturity ultimately prove just how fragile, confused, and young she truly is.
As Helen constantly blurs the line between celebration, provocation, and dysfunction in her relationship with her body, Roche exposes the double bind of female sexuality, delivering a compulsively listenable and fearlessly intimate manifesto on sex, hygiene, and the repercussions of family trauma.
©2008 DuMont Bucherverlag, Cologne (Germany). Translation copyright 2009 by Tim Mohr. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.
This story leaves no bodily fluid unconsidered. The descriptions are graphic, and there are definitely some parts that made me feel uncomfortable (due to the "ick factor"), but overall, I enjoyed listening. It's the first-person narrative and the charming personality of the main character that keeps this book from being truly vulgar. The reader gives a good performance, although she doesn't quite manage to portray the youthfulness of the 18-year-old main character. Overall, this was an enjoyable listening experience.
The overall performance was fantastic, and I found Roche's descriptions of life's sticky, drippy, disgusting bodies impressive.
I'm not sure I grasp all of the metaphors in the piece, but many are on the tip of my brain. As with the story our lives begin and end in a hospital -- and a large chunk of time is spent dealing with our bodies . . . and hiding our secretions from others.
It's strange now to consider other fiction that seems to forget that its characters have bodies at all.
A very interesting book, that will make you smile at how much we hide from others . . . and how much pain their can be in life . . . and how gross we all are!
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