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Notes on a Scandalous Novel

Kate Christensen
"The worst sin a writer can commit."
04/28/09 at 12:57

As promised, I finished Wetlands, and damn it, Adam, you said pretty much exactly what I was going to say. I agree with every word of your post, had been thinking "'it's meant to be funny' is hardly a ringing endorsement" and ffffftththhhhppppppppppppp. So I have nothing to add, really, except that I would love to be a fly on the wall of that Berlin bar ...

Jessa: [On discovering they're both menstruating] Hey, want to go in the ladies' room and trade tampons?

Charlotte: Wait, I know, let's really shock everyone. [Pulls out her homemade tampon and plops it in her Vampiro as a garnish and takes a big swig] [Jessa does the same] [Paparazzi bulbs flash] [Charlotte flutters her eyelids in a gamine moue] [Waiters rush over with a complimentary round of drinks from a nearby table of admiring fans] [Every menstruating woman in the place garnishes her drink with her tampon] [Several people faint]

I am sorry to let you down, Sam and Jessa, but this book was SO boring, and that's the worst sin a writer can commit. I repeat: I wanted to like it. I opened it in good faith with the expectation of being made to laugh a couple of times at least, but, like Adam, I cracked not one smile. There's nothing about it, not one thing, I can find in it to praise. I wish it had been truly, intelligently, hilariously shocking and transgressive. I wish it had made me rethink my attitudes toward my own body. I wish it had evoked anything in me besides a strong urge to shut the book and never reopen it.

I'm reading V.S. Naipaul now as an antidote.


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