Just Checking: Scenes from the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive

Emily Colas, Author
Emily Colas, Author Pocket Books $22 (176p) ISBN 978-0-671-02437-6
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-671-02438-3
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What could have been a fascinating exploration of a complex psyche never gets much beyond the level of stand-up comedy in this disappointing memoir of a young woman's life with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Substituting sarcasm for insight, Colas presents brief, easily digestible tidbits describing her overwhelming fear that she might catch diseases from strangers. She recounts her bizarre rituals of handwashing, garbage disposal, 800-number calling (is this product really safe?) that eventually hurt others and destroyed her marriage. Colas can be funny --(an episode of the stranger's underpants in the laundromat dryer is especially amusing (""I called my OB to ask her if she'd be willing to test me for gonorrhea"")--but her flat prose and superficial approach mask an intelligence that's never sufficiently engaged with this material--a typical analysis is, ""It sucks big time."" Though Colas provides occasional glimpses of a disturbed childhood, she quickly covers them up with her flippant comic routine. She's disappointed that her illness is less interesting than heroin addiction--it's just ""insanity lite,"" she writes, and ""Rock stars don't get magazine covers because they kept their audience waiting while they washed their hands twenty times."" By keeping her book at the level of a Seinfeld routine, Colas ensures that readers will gain little insight into a condition that deserves better treatment than it gets in this memoir lite. (July)
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