cover image Wrecked


Charlotte Roche, trans. from the German by Tim Mohr. Grove/Black Cat, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2112-7

Controversial German author Roche (Wetlands) delivers a complicated take on literary erotica where sex is more than titilation. Over three days the neurotic Elizabeth Kiehl mentally and physically prepares to visit a brothel with her husband Georg. Her crippling obsessions%E2%80%94going to therapy, pleasing her husband sexually, being the perfect mother to her daughter Liza, and saving the environment%E2%80%94all stem from a car accident that killed her three brothers, who were en route to her wedding, and her hatred of the paparazzi who terrorized her family afterwards. It is hard to differentiate between Roche's potentially groundbreaking expansion of female subjectivity in fiction and what is merely included to see how much she can get away with, but it is precisely the blurring of this line which makes her work so fascinating. Although trying shock, bemuse, and perhaps even enrage, Roche also attempts to explore the multitude of contradictory pressures middle class women face in the early 21st century, seen through the sharply focused, yet irredeemably skewed, lens of a mentally ill, and therefore unreliable, narrator. Although the content may trouble many readers, Roche's particularly explicit brand of Molly Bloom-esque, serpentine inner monologue is worth a read for those who can stomach it. (May)