cover image The Apology

The Apology

Eve Ensler. Bloomsbury, $22 (128p) ISBN 978-1-63557-438-8

This bold, brutal, and ultimately healing narrative by playwright Ensler exposes the origin story of her ground-breaking play The Vagina Monologues through searing reflections on incest and abuse. Ensler assumes the voice of her father, Arthur, who died 31 years earlier, in a tormented letter addressed to “Dear Evie.” Following a repressed, abusive childhood, business executive Arthur crafted a charming persona as “a synthetic remedy... to soul sickness.” He married at age 50 and became a reluctant father with Ensler’s birth in 1953. Infatuated with “the erotic essence of your tenderness,” he began fondling the five-year-old Ensler and raped her at nine, knowing that it made her feel like “a dirty shameful girl.” Physical abuse toward Ensler escalated through her teenage years: “I wanted you dead... I had to kill what I had already destroyed.” Ensler writes in the introduction, “I have had to conjure much” of the personal history that Arthur never shared, and reimagining the events in this uninhibited exploration of an abusive father’s motives, madness, and guilt sets her on the path to forgiveness. In the end, Arthur becomes aware of “the tortuous limbo I made inside you”; he apologizes, and is set free. This is a powerful and disturbing story that Ensler writes with grace an aplomb. (May)