I have read Women cover to cover twice, and flicked through it endlessly. Every single time I am both emotionally distraught and bored.
this review of Women is fascinating to me, so am re-posting. it is both incredibly flattering and insulting. it is, essentially, exactly the person i want to read this book–or rather, to keep with the motivation to write this book, i kept hoping it would one day lend comfort to an ’emotionally exhausted’ woman going through a break up with another book. it was the book i’d been looking for. the writer says the anecdotes feel like they were ripped from her life. when i read, that’s usually what i’m looking for, so hearing this makes my heart happy. i do not know the writer’s name, but this is her tumblr.
reviews of Women never hurt me even when they’re bad, because i know i did my best. for my essay collection though, coming out next year, i am planning to not read reviews. i can’t. it’ll fuck me up, i know it. when people attack your essay collection, they are usually attacking you too, or at least it feels that way.
i was listening to an interview with jenni konner & lena dunham, and jenni was like, “i always tell lena her gravestone is going to say, she read the comments.
Women is a story that came into my life exactly when I could most appreciate it. I bookmarked the webpage, intending to buy it, one day after my first girlfriend had broken up with me. I was heartbroken and confused, but it wasn’t until two months later, still in the midst of the same breakup (and just the right type of emotionally exhausted to really connect with the writing), that my best friend lent me her copy.
I feel like this novella is the type where everyone who reads it takes something very different from the experience. For me, this was less of a love story than a breakup story. There are situations documented in it that are wholly peculiar to having your heart broken by the first woman you ever slept with and loved (and obsessed over). At times it felt like the anecdotes had been ripped straight from my life.
I have sent at least five, badly-edited photographs of passages from Women, to my ex, my real life version of Finn. Hours after picking Women up for the first time she messages me to say that she’s taken the train all the way to my house (I live over an hour away from her), only to realise that we are now broken up, and turn back to the station. Unsure of what to say, I send her the first photograph.
“Well, it’s cool that my first was you. I’m glad it was you, I say.”
She says she remembers me quoting this to her before. In fact, I said something entirely too similar during our first and official breakup. But I’ve only just finished the book that night so I can’t have quoted it then.
Truthfully, I’m not sure if I can say Women is a good book. It is overwhelmingly maudlin, and saturated in detail. It turns me into all of my friends who told me to just block her already, goddamnit; I want to take the protagonist firmly by the shoulders and make her see that she needs to stop feeding the fire before it burns her out.
Page 42 starts, “On a park bench one evening, after Finn gets out of work, and before I go in, I read her poems from A Dream of a Common Language. She says Adrienne Rich scares her a little. I am learning that many things scare her a little. She has a Tea Tree toothpick in her mouth. She has the posture of a teenaged boy. I want to pummel her, wrestle her in the grass, give her new blue jeans grass stains, hump her leg.”
I understand, I do, the details are important. In love, in heartbreak, they feel like everything. They make it real. They transported me into the protagonist’s world so that I could feel her infatuation myself, so I could feel like Finn was my lover too. They do not become interesting. I have read Women cover to cover twice, and flicked through it endlessly. Every single time I am both emotionally distraught and bored.
I’m not sure if I can recommend this story to you. It feels as if it can’t have been written with any other audience in mind but me. And besides that, it feels like heartbreak–and not the self-indulgent kind. What it feels like is catching the train home after your latest fight with her: you have to keep living your life in the interim (before you see her again), and you have to deal with your feelings while you wait.
I ordered my copy on Monday; I will not be reuniting my best friend with hers until it arrives.