New York Magazine

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Notes on a Scandalous Novel

Jessa Crispin
"I am going to offer to buy Charlotte Roche a drink. "
04/24/09 at 14:49

Ayelet's reaction—sputtering, bile-filed—would be a more appropriate response to some girl coming over to her house and rubbing her vagina all over Ayelet's toilet seat and leaving behind a bloody tampon on the floor. Hate Wetlands, and sure, why not, hate Charlotte Roche, but to call anyone who buys Wetlands or gets any pleasure out of reading it "stupid" is imbecilic.

To talk about Wetlands’ failings as a novel is missing the point. It's not that Wetlands is criticproof—obviously—it's that it's the least interesting conversation you could possibly have. Did everyone forget the book is supposed to be funny and gross and shocking and, probably, totally without merit?

What I find really interesting is that as overshare-y (I'm so flustered I am making up words now) as we are as a culture—video-blogging our colonics and writing up the intimate details of our relationships and printing it in the New York Times “Modern Love” column—as soon as a book appears with a girl who writes about using her cervical mucus as a perfume, the critics freak the fuck out. OH MY GOD THAT IS CROSSING A LINE.

I would like to restate that I am glad this book exists. It's not only because I love a good joke about cervixes, but I've met grown women who would not use a tampon without an applicator because it's gross to use your fingers down there. I am also glad because I laughed, was slightly horrified to realize I share some disturbing behavior with Helen (no, I am not telling you which bit), and have greatly enjoyed reading out sections to men that I know. If everyone just comes back with another round of "The book is gross, the sentence structure is crap," I am going to be very, very disappointed.

When I get to Germany in July, I am going to offer to buy Charlotte Roche a drink. I am also considering buying her a menstrual cup, because if those homemade tampons came from her own personal experience, I will worry about her getting toxic shock.

Current Issue
Subscribe to New York

Give a Gift