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Wetlands
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About the Author

Charlotte Roche was born in 1978 in High Wycombe, but was brought up and lives in Germany. She has been a highly respected presenter on the German equivalent of MTV.

Reviews

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, LJ 12/08.]-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

`Profoundly unsettling' Rowan Pelling, Daily Mail

`If you ever wondered what you'd be like if you weren't shy, polite, tolerant, modest, sexually repressed, logical and constrained by modern standards of hygiene, this may be the book for you...This is not a beautiful or perfect book, but an enterprising one, and its cumulative effect is admirable...Our bodies mean a lot to us - even the asshole, about which far too little has been written. Every writer needs to claim a bit of territory, and assholes are there for the grabbing. Boldly, Roche takes them for her own' Guardian

`"Wetlands", in the tradition of Plath's "The Bell Jar", is a remarkable novel about mental illness that has been mistaken for feminist literature' Alice O'Keefe, New Statesman

`The cause of the fuss is the novel's extreme obscenity - though "obscenity" doesn't quite catch the particular, pungent flavour of the thing. "Grunginess" is nearer the mark' Adam Lively, Sunday Times

`Literary news this week suggests that when it comes to women writing about sex, reviewers are still reacting in the same way as Dr Johnson to his walking dog, surprised that it's being done at all. So hats off to Charlotte Roche, who has managed to give both the "Sunday Times" and the "Guardian" the willies by cheerfully confessing to consuming pornography with her husband and starting her book "Wetlands" with a graphic discussion of hemorrhoids' Lisa Hilton, Spectator

`Maeve Binchy is famous for her unique humour and insight; Cecelia Ahern is popular for her unlikely twists and touches of magic; Charlotte Roche has a different formula for success - haemorrhoids, hairy armpits and halitosis, mixed together into an unlikely erotic pot-pourri' Irish Independent

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.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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