This is my first review of a book that I didn’t enjoy at all, so here goes a little rant – enjoy!
In Germany, Feuchtgebiete caused a huge hype when it first came out and was hailed by some – most of all, by Charlotte Roche herself – as the arrival of a new generation of feminists, but more or less ferociously criticised by others.
Feuchtgebiete is about 18 year-old Helen who is admitted to hospital after trying to shave her private parts, which somehow goes wrong because she also has haemorrhoids (yes, it’s that agreeable). In the following you learn all about that and so much more that you never really wanted to know about her messed-up life and lack of hygiene therein. Actually, lack of hygiene? Deliberate search for the exact opposite, really.
Over the next days, she lies in hospital waiting for her divorced parents to turn up and finally make peace by her sick daughter’s bedside. While the reader is subjected to all of Helen’s more or less intriguing masturbation and other appetising habits, another figure turns up by her bedside. Robin, the (male, in case you were wondering) nurse. Helen begins to have teenager-like feelings for him, and Feuchtgebiete‘s ‘happy ending’ has her leave the hospital to move in with him.
What the book does quite well – I think – is to describe Helen’s childish-bordering-on-adult emotional world: a huge mess of a kid’s wishes – having mum and dad make up – mixed with a good deal of sex, and the beginnings of feelings (for an older guy, of course). Frankly, though, there are books out there that do a much better job of these things.
But what made Feuchtgebiete impossible for me to like was that it pretends to be all deep and different, while it’s really shallow in terms of actual content. It’s out there to shock, that’s it. And since it’s difficult to shock people with anything nowadays, Roche goes all out on the gross factor. I’m finding it hard to see any serious feminist intentions behind that.
Feuchtgebiete never goes beyond scraping the surface and hides this under a thick cover of cringeworthy disgustingness. It’s over the top and, as a piece of literature, completely unnecessary. Unless for some unfathomable reason you’ve been waiting for a description of how to take a dump with freshly operated haemorrhoids.
English title: Wetlands
Spanish title: Zonas húmedas