Feuchtgebiete by Charlotte Roche
This post is NSFW.
Note: If you plan on reading this book when it comes out in English then you might want to steer away from this post. I’ve taken the liberty of my own English translation of some of the text which might be kind of a spoiler. And so. Spoiler alert! Or maybe not.
Ironically, the cover of this book is pink and includes the raised image of a bandage. Underneath the bandage is the title in a dot-matrix, Teutonic font. Every time I picked up this book it reminds me of the one natural application of the color pink that I do not hate. Luckily this book deals with that one thing en masse. So I hate the colour pink but I do not hate this book.
Now get this. Since it’s publication, Feuchtgebiete has received a lot of attention and has been an amazing success for Roche. As of March 2008 it has sold more than 500k copies. At one point it was even number one on Amazon.com. That might not sound all that great at first but then consider that it reached the top of the list while published in German. Again. Let me make sure that got across so that my worst-readers get it. This book reached the top selling list while printed in German on the .com and not the .de of Amazon. As a wannabe struggling writer who writes in English but lives in Germany… Holy shit! I’m the one who needs a pink bandage.
My hat is off and I bow deeply to Charlotte Roche. Say what you want about this book. It’s either bad-mouth wannabe pornography or it’s new-fangled erotic literature. Either way, Roche did a pretty good job writing it. One of the basic criteria I have for good writing is when an author makes me think. I don’t care about grammar, structure or formula. If it’s creative, has passion and makes me think, it’s winner. This book has all of that–and a lot of good old fashioned smut. And that’s the only worst-criticism I have of the book. There’s simply too much smut which takes away from getting any protagonist message across. Either that or I’m just too old to understand the body fluid workings of young women these days. But I’ll leave it at that for now on account I’m no lit-critic. Moving on.
The heroine of the book is Helen. She’s 18 and somewhat…confused. No. Wait. She’s angry. Whatever. Here’s how she opens the story (Tommi translation):
As far as family goes, taking care of the elderly means a lot to me. Just like any other child with divorced parents, I wish my parents would get back together. When my parents require elderly care the first thing I’m gonna do is put their new partners in a nursing home. Then I’m gonna take my divorced parents home, put them in the same bed, and take care of them till they die. It will be a moment of happiness for me. So all I have to do is wait patiently. I have the situation under control.
After that all you get is more than two hundred big-fonted pages of hemorrhoids, vaginal fluids, one-afternoon-stands, and a few lines of girly-wisdom that perhaps this media driven world could put to use. Oh, there’s also the underlying emotional pain of a young woman and her having to finally grow up. If you can get past the nonsense of a young girl’s obsession with herself in the form of consuming, utilizing and sharing every fluid or particle that the female body makes, then you will get to the soul of a person whose feelings are so hurt that… her anus (kinda) explodes. Helen tells the story from the hospital bed where she has to have an operation on an/her anus. It seems, as part of her girl-body obsession, she cut her anus while shaving. Yeah, right.
While reading Feuchtgebiete I kept thinking of two things. One was how they are going to translate the title. Thus far I’ve seen articles using ”Wetlands”. I don’t think that works at all. My preference would be ”Girl Things Wet”. Luckily I’m no translator. The second thing I kept thinking about were the cheap paperback porn books that I read when I was young. You know, the books where sperm was called jism and the word fuck somehow never reminded one of “fuck you asshole”. Am I the only male born after 1960 to have read A Man With A Maid written by Anonymous? Anywho.
The only thing that really bugged me about Roche’s book were the amount of explanations she uses and thereby imparting a wisdom that perhaps only sexually active young (very young) girls can fully understand. Wait. Does that make any sense? Nomatter. Here some of Roche’s/Helen’s pseudo-wisdom (Tommi translation):
- It’s only a fantasy if you get horny thinking about it.
- Once I did a coffee peepee test. My father taught me this. When you get up in the morning you have to pee because your bladder collects everything overnight. Once you’ve emptied yourself in the morning you’d think that all the pee was out of your body. Then when you drink a cup of coffee your body is so poisoned that it collects more water in order to clean everything out. As soon as you finish your coffee you pee more fluid then the coffee you actually drank. I’ve proven it, I used a coffee cup one morning and it overflowed with pee. I proved my father correct that coffee dehydrates. My mother wasn’t happy at all because she doesn’t think urine should be in a coffee cup.
- (After claiming that tampons are a waste of money): The other half I fold long-ways till I have a long thin clothe. Then I roll it in small, tight stages till it becomes the shape of a thick wurst and then shove into my pussy as high as it’ll go. How’s that American tampon industry!
- Dear (worst)reader/writer, I’m sorry, but the following I can’t (won’t) translate, because, well, I don’t even know what the fuck it means but it sounds kind of cool in a German sorta way: Trauer- wettstreit gewonnen durch vergezogene Trauerarbeit.
- (Helen speaking to herself): Don’t be disappointed. The next self-fuck will be better, Helen, I promise.
- After eating a burgar: There’s nothing on my body that my fingers can leave alone.
- About boys: For a boys eighteenth birthday their parents always invite them to a local whore house.
- Sex while menstruating: A good pirate sticks it in the red sea.
And that’s not all. Here the interesting German words that Roche uses.
- Fickverabredung = fuck + appointment.
- Käsebaby = cheese + baby.
- Röbbelkönigin = something about rubbing her pussy and being the queen (the best?) at having an orgasm while doing it.
- Körperausscheidungsrecyclerin = body + expulsion + recycling.
- Muschirosapink = the color of a black woman’s vagina.
- Blutschwesternschaft = blood-sisters; the ceremonial sharing of menstrual blood. But! It’s more something like the American Indian blood brothers thing. I guess.
- Fickurheber = fuck + initiator; Helen cuts a hole in her panties when she’s on a date with someone she wants to fuck, that way, when petting gets going, the guy is surprised but gets the message that she wants to fuck without having to go through all the rigmarole of a date. (Where were these chicks when I was young?)
- Rasurhindernisparcours = razor + obstacle + horse-show-jumping-course; the name she gives the rim of her anus as someone is shaving her/it.
- Sexandenkenkaubonbon = sex + souvenir + chewable candy; she’s describing the stuff that’s left over after sex and what she does with it.
Last but not least, here are three words that Helen gives to the most precious of her female parts. I’ll leave translation up to your imagination or your ability to research/google it. Seriously, I’m tired of all this nasty stuff.
Although the writing is at times very trying, especially for someone who ONLY read porn when it was innocent, this is a fun read and has a creative, if not profound, ending.