The graveyard of personal literary ambition.
There is only one of me, but I am Legion.
(lazy dot reviewer at gmail)
You must never read this book. Not because it’s so terrible (it isn’t, really), but because it will destroy your soul. This is an obligatory sort of spoiler alert, but it’s a memoir by Kaysen, who you may remember from Winona Ryder comeback vehicles (that didn’t really work, because, come on, does anyone remember her in that?) in which she tells the terrible tale of her vagina.
I mean vagina, not vulva, by the way, and I’m extremely exacting about that distinction.
It starts to hurt, essentially. Her life was fine, she had a decent enough boyfriend, and then her vagina starts to hurt. She goes to the doctor, then another doctor, then a specialist, then another specialist, and they all dig around in there and can’t find anything amiss. They try giving her cortisone shots, and yogurt suppositories, it gets worse. And eventually her boyfriend gets tired of her inability to have sex (it doesn’t just hurt during sex, by the way, it hurts all the time), and they break up, and she decides to just give up, essentially, and walk around with agonizing vaginal pain.
Then it sort of just…dies? It goes sort of numb, she no longer feels discomfort, per se, just….nothing. And then she meets this super hot, fascinating young guy, and they become extremely close, and she starts to feel mild flutters of interest in her vagina. I think to myself, oh, how beautiful, her vagina has been cured by the love of a good man. Surely, this book has already been optioned by the makers of “Waiting to Exhale.”
Until she finally moves in to be intimate with this young man, and is met with “oh, wow, I sort of think of you as a motherly figure in my life, gosh, sorry.”
I think the book just ends, after that, but do you really need to know more?
So, if you think you can handle reading it (perhaps you’re a man, and have no vagina), I encourage you to prepare by reading Paula Kamen’s “All In My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache,” or possibly Laura Hillenbrand’s “A Sudden Illness,” an essay originally published in the New Yorker. Each of these three works tackles not only the issue of writing about a woman’s experience with chronic illness, but how to deal with the necessary creative problem of ending such a story, when the illness remains. Paula still has the headache, Laura still has chronic fatigue syndrome, and Susanna’s vagina is still busted.
You really should work up to the latter.