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Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

Wetlands (2008)

by Charlotte Roche

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9124314,500 (2.75)35



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English (26)  German (13)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Reading "The Wetlands" made me think of a comment I once saw posted on a slightly seedy internet comment board in which some guy bemoaned the fact that French and German porn actresses tended to bore him because they were too comfortable with sex. Watching them go at it, he said, was sort of like watching them do aerobics, albeit using some unusual equipment. It got me thinking: maybe you can be too comfortable with sex! It might be lapsed Catholic in me talking, but maybe the idea that our naughty bits are indeed naughty adds something important to our sexual experiences. "The Wetlands" seems to confirm this hypothesis. Never have I read a novel so explicit and yet so dull.

The explicit elements of this book have probably been described by other reviewers at length, so I won't go them here, save to say that Helen Memmel, our protagonist, has such a blasé attitude towards her own body that it verges on disassociation. Forget a mind-body connection: Helen describes her body as if it's a piece of furniture and hasn't yet secreted a bodily fluid she isn't perfectly at home with. Perhaps the author's trying to desacrilize the body or normalize its functions, or maybe she's trying to tweak Americans' supposedly overly puritanical conceptions of their own bodies. Either way, it makes "The Wetlands" a pretty flat and unexciting read. This is especially true since Helen herself isn't that interesting: even for a teenage protagonist, who might be forgiven for not being especially reflective, she's glib and self-centered. Heck, I'm not too sure that "shallow" isn't the correct adjective here. We watch her irritate nurses, manipulate doctors, and recount a couple of bodily fluid-intensive experiences without gaining much insight into the life that she may or may not have. Helen's a dirty, dirty girl, but not in the exciting sense that that phrase usually implies. The novel could probably have been improved by periodic visits from the grinning, broad-shouldered bald guy on the Mr. Clean bottle.

And that, I guess, is my main problem with "The Wetlands." I'm just some American with a rather tense relationship with microbes, but I imagine that you'd have to go through some pretty significant trauma to get to where Helen is in this novel. And, yes, she talks about a couple of genuinely unpleasant incidents her past in her usual afectless tone. But there's little emotional resonance here. A lot of what passes for the emotional underpinnings to Helen's character is day-dreamy, by-the-numbers teenage sentimentality and doesn't seem to explain, never mind justify, the weird, messy place that she's ended up. Frankly, this kitschy stuff's a lot less forgivable than all of Helen's talk about her secretions and orifices. There are probably places here where the author could have made a larger point about modern society's relationship with impurity and our physical selves, but Helen's not really the right vessel for that: there's little in the way of social critique here.

So that's it. "The Wetlands" is recommended to fans of outré literature who have a high tolerance for discussions of all things proctological, people interested in literary depictions of the body -- of which I admit I'm one -- absolutely shameless perverts, and nobody else. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after reading this one. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Dec 3, 2016 |
*2015 Reading Challenge* A book with bad reviews
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
A hilarious commentary to make you question how you think about your body, and it's functions. At times repetitive, and maybe a little too bizarre; Wetlands may be counterproductive for the message it wishes to portray. Eighteen year old Helen is in hospital being treated for an infected anal lesion. The promiscuous narrator is no stranger to her body, and much of the book is filled with stories of previous sexual exploits. At the core, however, is an attack against the modern waxed, douched, scented, and doused in makeup female. ( )
  ErraticLucidity | Oct 28, 2014 |
Pretentious gimmick. ( )
  Steelwhisper | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Roche has called her Helen a “free spirit,” but there’s an unmeditated falseness to this damaged Ophelia’s cockiness, more traumatized runaway in denial than gleeful debauchee... Wetlands has the makings of a complex psychological portrait of the “dark continent” of female sexuality that Freud feared to tread, a case study of Dora from her own perspective, but this potential is never fully realized.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Kate Zambreno (May 24, 2009)
Dabei ist es dieser aufklärerische Furor, dieser unbedingte Wahrheitstrieb, den Roche in ihren Fernsehauftritten immer schon gezeigt hat und der ihren Roman jetzt so sehr von dem unterscheidet, was an deutscher Prosa sonst in den Regalen steht, Prosa, die ja gerade mal wieder sehr gern die großen Probleme der Welt in politische Romane packt, dabei aber vielleicht die nahe liegenden Feuchtgebiete vernachlässigt.
added by ElBarto | editDIE ZEIT, Georg Diez (May 19, 2005)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charlotte Rocheprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jayne, PippaReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bredenkamp, Christinesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gross, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jané-Lligé, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Misset, MarcelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mohr, TimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nordang, AstridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rautio, Jenni(KÄÄnt.)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roscher, AinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Servalli, E.Traduttoresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Széherová, Katarínasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vivas, JulioDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As far back as I can remember, I've had hemorrhoids.
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Helen Memel, an outspoken eighteen-year-old with a childlike stubbornness and a precocious sexual confidence, starts scheming on reuniting her divorced parents.

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