Sloshing Through The Wetlands – Chapter 1

So, my wonderful and disgusting friend Sebastian introduced me to this:
This is the North American cover. The German one is an avocado, which is honestly more gross than an armpit once you know the context.
Actually, he just started randomly telling me about this German novel that actually made him cringe because there were so many parts that were hilariously gross. And because we are kindred spirits in the sense that we thing gross things are funny… well, my morbid curiosity was piqued. To my delight, I discovered that it had been translated into English and wandered down to Reflections to get a copy ordered. I’m willing to bet that the wonderful ladies down there wish that they didn’t know that I wanted to read this. ^_^’
For those of you who know me, you know my sense of humour. It doesn’t really know a lot of boundaries. Not much of my personality really knows a lot of boundaries, for that matter. I must give this book props, because there were parts that actually made me uncomfortable. That is a definite win. After reading, I wanted to share it with everyone, while simultaneously protect everyone from it, because ew.
Of course, sharing it won out. And I’d like to share it the best way I know how, by blogging it chapter by chapter. Because ew. :) And you’re welcome.
So without further ado, I introduce you to Wetlands, by the very interesting Charlotte Roche. (P.S. Everywhere that talks about this book says that is is partially-autobiographical. Not sure how much of it is, but keep this in mind as we go. Or don’t.)
Wetlands – Chapter 1

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had hemorrhoids.

This has got to be one of the greatest opening lines in a book ever. Talk about a hook! The book is written in the first person, and in a very blunt way. The main character, Helen, is very uninhibited and crass, and completely shameless about everything she says. I absolutely love this style of writing, because it feels like a real person is talking to you.

[…] I would scratch at my butthole in my sleep so much that I’d wake up in the morning with a brown stain in my underwear the size of the top of a cork. That’s how much it itched, and that’s how deep I’d stick my finger in. So yes, I’d say it’s very unladylike.

She spends the first two pages describing her hemorrhoids and how she’d ignored them for many years for fear of someone finding out. She talks about what treatments she’s had, and what salve she had to stop the itching. I’m not even joking.

Then we get a lovely description of how some of the hemorrhoids have worked their way out to surround her asshole. Her doctor calls it cauliflower.
Like this, but on an asshole.

If you’re feeling like your morbid curiosity isn’t satisfied here, just google cauliflower ass. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You’ll be so glad that you did.

It’s also a good way to test whether someone is serious about me. During one of the first few times I have sex with somebody new, I get us into my favourite position: doggy-style, me on all fours with my face down, him behind me with his tongue in my pussy and his nose in my ass. He’s got to work his way in there, because the hole is covered with the vegetable. I call this position “stuff your face,” and so far nobody has complained.

After cringing at the visual of this, I have to say there’s actually a good theme in this passage. In general, it says that to be with someone, you have to love everything about them, the good and the bad. That includes cauliflower ass.

Helen goes on to talk about how she loves anal, so she’s had to train herself to relax so as to loosen up the affected area for sex. Then we get into the shaving. She shaves her pussy, legs, armpits, and the top of her feet, and also plucks her upper lip.

Back to shaving my ass.

Roche does a lot of this in the narrative, which makes me laugh my ass of every time. “Back to-“, and it’s always something very blunt. It’s not the best grammar, but in a story told by an eighteen year old (yes, Helen is only eighteen) girl, it’s believable and hilarious.

Helen goes on to describe how she positions herself in the mirror to study her asshole every day, and also uses this technique to shave it. She talks about how she’s conflicted about shaving, because she used to be totally fine just being hairy all the time. For the people that have ranted and raved about how this is an extremely feminist book, this is one of those instances where I’ll agree. I personally shave certain parts of my body because I like the way it feels and looks. When I am too lazy to shave my legs, or it’s winter and I want that extra layer of warmth, I don’t. And I don’t particularly care what other people view it as. It’s my body, and if I want smooth legs I’ll fucking shave them. I like how Helen can say that she was totally comfortable with her body hair. Now she shaves everything because she’s addicted to it.

[…] I always rush it and end up pressing too hard. Which is exactly how I caused the anal lesion that’s the reason I’m lying here in the hospital now. Blame it all on lady-shaving. Feel like Venus. Be a goddess.

Also this bitch is so witty. It was at this point (by the way, we’re only on page three) that I decided that I liked this character a lot. She’s nasty, but she’s comfortable with who she is, and she’s funny as fuck.

So at this point we learn that the setting of the book is in a hospital room, where she’s laid up because she has an anal lesion. She tells us that a lesion is a ‘hairline rip of cut in the skin of your rosette’. And it got infected, because it’s an open wound on an asshole, which means abscessed.
I feel like ‘rosette’ is not the best term for asshole.
On a side note, those cupcakes look delicious.

Also the hemorrhoids are pushing against it, ripping it further open and making it hurt a lot. She says it hurts even more than when she accidentally ripped out her nipple ring pulling off a sweater (OW), also that’s why her nipple looks like a snake’s tongue now (EW).

Back to my bum.

Tee hee! Anyway, she left school to go to the hospital and ended up in what she calls the “ass unit”. She talks about how she’s not allowed to move, and has to lay on the bed with her ass exposed towards the door so that everyone that comes in can see what’s up.

And they talk about pus and an engorged blister that’s hanging out of the wound on my butthole. I picture the blister like the skin on the neck of one of those tropical birds that puffs its throat out when trying to mate. A shimmering, inflated, red-blue sac.

I have to point out that the imagery here is written beautifully.

The proctologist, Dr. Notz, comes in and jams his finger up in Helen’s ass to check it out. He asks her if she’s had anything to eat, and she says no, which is good because then she can be knocked out for the surgery that needs to take place immediately. She asks him exactly what they’re going to do, and he tells her they’ll be cutting a wedge-shaped incision, and she wants him to draw a diagram.

The doc is weirded out by this (aren’t we all?), but he draws a circle with a triangular wedge cut out. She doesn’t feel any better informed, and makes an internal comment about his artistic talent, then asks if they’ll be cutting out the cauliflower too. He tells her yes, and then:

He walks out, leaving me lying in the puddle of water from the blister.

Delicious. The anesthesiologist comes in, makes sure she’s eighteen, and tells her how he’ll be sitting by her head the entire operation to make sure she’s breathing. She feels bad for him because his job is to squat the whole time.

He’s brought a contract that I’m supposed to sign. It says the operation could result in incontinence. I ask how it could affect my pissing. He grins and says this refers to anal incontinence. Never heard of it. But suddenly I realize what this means: “You mean I might lose control of my sphincter muscles and then I could just crap myself anytime and anyplace and would need a diaper and stink all the time?”

The ‘sandman’, as she calls the anesthesiologist, tells her that that rarely happens, so she signs the contract. Helen prays to god that it won’t happen, that she won’t have to wear a diaper at age eighteen.

And you certainly don’t look cool in them.

I literally googled “looking cool in adult diapers” and got this.

She asks the sandman if it would be okay for her to see the piece that they cut out after the surgery is over.

“I don’t like the idea that a part of me could end up in the trash along with aborted fetuses and appendixes without my being able to picture it. I want to hold it in my hand and examine it.” 

Okay, I get checking shit out on your body. Everyone does it. Everyone picks at stuff on their skin, peeks into the toilet after taking a shit, looks at the q-tip after cleaning their ears, all of that crap. Anyone who says they don’t is a liar. We, as humans, are obsessed with our own bodies, because these are our vessels and we can check them out as much as we want.

But holding the chunk of abscessed anal cauliflower that got removed from your ass? I’ve never been in that situation, but I really don’t feel like I’d want to examine that too closely. I don’t know for sure… but ew. Props to Helen for being brave enough to ask, though. The sandman seems totally fine with this, and preps a catheter for where they’ll be pumping the anesthesia.

He leaves her, and while she’s waiting for a nurse to come take her to surgery, she continues to pray to ‘nonexistent God’ to keep her from having anal incontinence. She says that if she gets out okay, she’ll stop doing all of the things that give her a bad conscience.

Like the game I play with my friend Corinna where we run through the city drunk and grab people’s eyeglasses, break them, and then chuck them into the street.

That’s not very nice, Helen. She reflects that they had to run away quickly, because people were so pissed off that they could chase them pretty well even without their glasses. She goes on to say that the game is stupid anyway because they sober up from all of the adrenaline and it’s just a big waste of money.

This is a turning point in the reader’s view of Helen because it’s the first time she confesses to doing something pretty horrible. Up until now, yes she does some weird things, but to herself. This is where we learn that her and her best friend get drunk and break other people’s things. It’s pretty shitty, and I felt like she was being really casual about it.

Actually, I’d like to give up that game anyway- sometimes at night I dream of the faces of the people whose glasses we’ve just plucked off. It’s as if we’ve ripped off a body part.

But then she examines it, addresses it, and reflects on how it affected the people they did it to. Which shows some growth and maturity. Which, you know, is good. Anyway, she decides to give that game up immediately, and tries to think of other things she can pledge to give up.

Maybe if it’s absolutely necessary I’ll give up the hookers. That would be a major sacrifice, though.

There’s no more explanation of this here, but you just wait for it. Helen decides instead that she’s going to be the best patient the hospital has ever had.

I’ll clean up my own messes. Like the fluid from my blister.

She peeks around the room to see that there are rubber gloves, and a container full of wipes, diapers, disposable underwear, toweling, and plastic bed covers with cloth on one side. She puts one cloth side down to soak up the mess, and one on top cloth side up so that she’s comfortable.

Well done, Helen. Despite the hellish pain, you are your own best nurse. Anyone who can take care of herself so well with definitely recuperate quickly. I’ll have to be a bit more hygienic here in the hospital than I am outside in my normal life.

Thus ends chapter 1, with a wonderful segue into chapter 2. I won’t spoil the opening line of the next chapter, but I think you can guess where this is going.
Let’s just say this entire dog is cleaner than Helen’s vagina.

Wetlands Schedule

I’m going to try to do these once a week, between Tuesdays and Thursdays sometime because those are my days off. But, I may get excited and decide to do one before then, if I have time in the evenings over the weekend. So we’ll see. In between I’ll likely blog about other stuff that doesn’t require so much reading and research, but I’m going to keep a loose leash on this one. At the very least, you’ll have chapter two by next Thursday.

And I won’t blame you if you have to go out and buy this book now. Morbid curiosity is a devilish thing. ;P



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