Wetlands

Wetlands

3.4 23
by Charlotte Roche, Tim Mohr
     
 

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With more than one million copies sold in Germany and rights snapped up in twenty-seven 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 eighteen-year-old, whose childlike stubbornness is offset by a precocious sexual

Overview

With more than one million copies sold in Germany and rights snapped up in twenty-seven 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 eighteen-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 reader 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 readable and fearlessly intimate manifesto on sex, hygiene, and the repercussions of family trauma.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Roche's explicit and provocative debut about an 18-year-old girl with a very active sex life was a bona fide sensation in Germany upon its publication earlier this year. Helen Memel, hospitalized for the treatment of an infected anal lesion, spends much of the novel in the hospital scheming on how to reunite her divorced parents. Between visits by hospital staff and her family, Helen shares her vast sexual experience, details how she rebels against her mother's uptightness by reveling in excretions, and maintains a high level of curiosity about her own body (and, of course, others'). Among the graphic sex scenes and tidbits on her avocado tree-growing hobby, Helen dishes gnarly stories about leaving a used tampon in an elevator, dribbling a trail of urine from the bathroom to her bed and eating scabs. Through Helen's mix of eroticism and profanity, Memel attacks conventional views on women's hygiene, sexuality and the definition of femininity. Though there isn't much plot-it feels largely like a buffet of filth and screwing-Helen's take on life is enough to keep the pages turning. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Tales of family dysfunction are a dime a dozen, so another book mining divorce and its aftermath is hardly compelling. What's different about this work is that its 18-year-old protagonist, Helen Memel, copes with domestic fissures by engaging in compulsive, random sexual hook-ups. Using language explicit enough to make the Mayflower Madame blush, Roche recounts Helen's exploits and proclivities. Nothing is left to the imagination-and that means nothing. The book's sassy if confessional tone introduces a 21st-century Lolita whose bravado is slowly chipped away during a prolonged hospitalization, which gives her time to reflect on the traumas she's lived through. It's intense stuff, especially since Helen is full of both sage wisdom and childish neediness. When it was initially released in Germany, this book reportedly caused a sensation, leading to sales of more than one million copies. While American readers may be put off by the text's sexual brazenness, they should get over their puritanical squeamishness. If they don't, they'll miss a novel that is simultaneously exhilarating, moving, sad, and scary. Every adult fiction collection should stock it. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/08.]
—Eleanor J. Bader

Kirkus Reviews
English translation of a German TV personality's sexually graphic first novel. "As far back as I can remember, I've had hemorrhoids." With this opening line, Roche declares her intention to omit no physiological detail. Readers may take it as a frank come-on or a kindhearted warning, depending on their interest in exploring aspects of the female nether regions that are seldom described outside of hardcore pornography or the gynecologist's office. Eighteen-year-old protagonist Helen Memel narrates the entire novel from a hospital bed, where she is confined after the aforementioned rectal unpleasantness contributes to a terrible shaving mishap. While convalescing after emergency surgery, Helen entertains herself by reflecting on her unhappy family, reminiscing about her sexual adventures and tenderly examining all-all-of her body's excrescences. Indeed, meditations on cervical mucus and related substances make up most of this slender novel, and this, aside from Roche's fame (she's a presenter on the German equivalent of MTV), is the reason why her novel has become an international cause scandale. Abroad, it has been celebrated as an empowering depiction of sexual independence, and a superficial reading would support such judgment. But Helen is hardly a feminist heroine. She is sexually precocious but emotionally stunted. She is afraid to be alone, and, while she may revel in her various secretions, she is ultimately no more respectful of her body than the women who groom themselves into a state of profound unnaturalness. Indeed, Helen's claims that her own filthiness is a political act seem more bratty than noble. When she spits in a glass of mineral water and offers it to a candy striper,it is not the act of a revolutionary; it is the act of a petulant teen. Provocatively nasty but intellectually empty. Author tour to Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802144690
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/19/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
338,986
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author


Thirty-year-old Charlotte Roche, born in High Wycombe but raised in Germany, has been a recognizable face in her adopted home country since she started working as a presenter on Viva, the German equivalent of MTV, in the mid-1990s. She went on to write and present programs and late-night talk shows for Arte and ZDF, and won the highly respected Grimme Prize for television in 2004.

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Wetlands 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
alexandralski More than 1 year ago
I loved this book more then any I have ever read! It was totally gross. But it was like a train wreck. You just had to keep reading. It goes into details. If you have a weak stomach then I wouldn't read this. But if you can handle it its the greatest book!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Amazing read. Loved everything this book had to offer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing as i read it over and over again. You dont have to agree with her lifestyle to grt hooked. As lomg as your not grossed out easily, its a greatread!
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Myron33 More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent and well-written autobiographical read once you get beyond the initial graphic "scab picking" shock, where Helen's (main character) exploration of her body and things she does are probably more similar to than dissimilar than most-things people do during adolescence but rarely admit to. The graphic aspects of the novel that seem to be the pervasive publicity headlines are done well because they're not gratuitous, but part of character and story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
an_eternity_worth_of_book More than 1 year ago
I loved the writing style,and the openess used. However, I did feel a little jipped. I thought the author would reveal some psychological reasoning for the main characters behaviour and especially to be such a young person. All in all, it was a good read but because I was on a reading binge- I wished I'd spent the time on another book, and read this one when I was on a free reading binge. Anyway, this book is definately for a mature audience- I'd recommend it
Staysee More than 1 year ago
I agree not all women are perfect clean pretty and perfect that but not all women are this gross either. It is a waste of money in my opinion to buy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amanda_L More than 1 year ago
Sexuality was never so blatantly explored than in Wetlands. I found myself absolutely disgusted at times, and then in hysterics. While I wouldn't recommend discussing this in polite company, it may be interesting for an evening with close friends to talk about what the author writes about.
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mrlene More than 1 year ago
The main character in this book is funny, disturbed, sad and brave...but be prepared for the most disgusting scenes imaginable of every bodily function. This writer hits new lows. It begins to feel gratuitous... There were times I had to put the book down, I was so disgusted by what I was reading.