Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon


by Jaimy Gordon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
372306,014 (3.5)16



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 16 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
BOGEYWOMAN is very strange stuff indeed. I obtained the book after reading Gordon's most recent book, an NBA fiction winner, LORD OF MISRULE. The protagonist of BW, Ursie Koderer, is the younger sister of Maggie Koderer, who is the main character in LoM. So I was curious, I suppose to see how the family 'balanced out.' Well, turns out this side of the family is pretty 'unbalanced,' or so it seems, as most of the story takes place in a very expensive mental hospital in Baltimore. But there's probably nothing more wrong with Ursie than a badly damaged self-esteem and confusion over her sexual identity. Plainly put, Ursie likes girls and women. The book is labeled "lesbian literature," but there's more to it than that. Gordon has created a whole strange little world in the life of the Rohring Rohring hospital, where Ursie is part of a 'band' of grotesque adolescent misfit patients. The staff has its own strange characters in its doctors and attendants. I was reminded of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in some respects, but BW is also a kind of Princess Bride of queer lit. Ursie forms a crush on one of the 'dreambox mechanics,' as the psychiatrists are called at RR, only one term of a whole assortment of nuthouse jargon which permeates the book. There are other crushes. There is cruelty and craziness here that begins just inside the cover, which features artwork which appears to be a surreal and rather frightening representation of the female genitalia.

I loved LORD OF MISRULE, which had its own odd assortment of characters and special jargon of the racetrack world. But BOGEYWOMAN was a slog for me. Nothing much happens for the first couple hundred pages, but I forced myself to keep going and the action picked up a bit, but was so surreal as to be quite unbelievable - that Princess Bride element. This earlier work simply didn't pick up momentum the way LoM did. You can see the style similarities, but it was just plain slow going. I didn't hate the book, but it just wasn't that great. Not sure I would recommend it to the casual reader - or to anyone for that matter. ( )
  TimBazzett | Feb 25, 2011 |
Bogeywoman, the third book by Jaimy Gordon I've read, is a compelling, intense, clever coming-of-age story told by Ursula, the self-named Bogeywoman, a very smart but very troubled teenage girl -- troubled most of all by her realization that she is a lesbian but determined to be one "Unbeknownst to Everybody" and to never even mention the word but represent it by a star symbol. Soon after she has gotten herself into a bit of a problem at summer camp and used a knife to write on her arms, she winds up in an upscale mental institution, a place where her fellow teenage inmates are mostly no more crazy than she is: no psychotics here, just children, with a few exceptions, who are too much for their rich parents to handle -- a girl who sleeps with every man she sees, a boy who takes every drug he can find, and so on. Eventually, a new and mysterious doctor arrives, Ursula falls in love and, as many of the book's subtitles proclaim, "love got me out of there."

We as readers are inside Ursula's mind, and the book is full of her own language, words (often very funny) that she uses in place of the ones we know: psychiatrists are dreambox mechanics, for example, and men and boys are fuddies. It takes a little getting used to, as does the her combined fascination and disgust, as an adolescent, with bodily functions. For me, as with Gordon's Lord of Misrule (which I loved), the ending was a little forced, if not on the melodramatic side, but that's a quibble. It is Gordon's brilliance with words and language, her ability to subtly tie together different threads and themes, and Ursula's individuality, strength, and determination that make this an unusual but rewarding read.

As a PS, for those who have read Lord of Misrule, Ursula is the sister of Maggie Koderer in that books, and a version of Maggie, as Margaret, is a secondary character in Bogeywoman.
2 vote rebeccanyc | Feb 21, 2011 |
Showing 2 of 2
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A lesbian love affair between a psychiatrist and a patient in a mental asylum. The patient is Ursula Koderer, who prides herself on being a misfit, but she is also violent, hence her incarceration. By the author of She Drove Without Stopping.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
8 wanted2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.5)
2.5 1
3 2
3.5 1
4 1
5 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,883,674 books! | Top bar: Always visible