In the Body of the World

I’m going to try an experiment and write really short reviews, say just a couple hundred words or so, and try to review more of the books I read and post more often. One thing that keeps me from posting, sometimes, is that I don’t have, or don’t want to take, the time to write long reviews, so I don’t write any at all. Perhaps removing that pressure will encourage me to post more.

I’ve had my eye on Eve Ensler’s memoir In the Body of the World at my library for a while, and something, I’m not sure what, made me pick it up last time I was there. Flipping through it at home, some of the language caught my eye, so I gave it a go, and read the first half in one sitting. I found that first half riveting. Then sitting down to read the second half didn’t go quite as well, and I’m not sure if the book changed, or if my mood changed.

The book is an account of Ensler’s (author most famously of The Vagina Monologues) struggles with cancer, although she tells also about her work for women’s rights around the world and especially in Africa. It’s a book about suffering, both her own suffering and that of the women she works with, and it’s also a book about alienation from one’s body (her body) and from the earth. She connects her own experiences to larger world events: her years of feeling disconnected from her body to our larger societal disconnect from environmental damage. In a way, it seems absurd to make the leap from one’s personal circumstances to what is happening on a global scale, but Ensler makes it meaningful and, in places, moving.

The writing in this book is, at its best, urgent and passionate. At its worst, it feels florid and overwrought. Perhaps that’s what went wrong with my reading of the second half. The entire book is very emotionally raw, and the book won’t work for you if that isn’t your thing. But it has a lot to say about living comfortably in one’s own body and how suffering shapes and changes you, and it mourns eloquently for the abuses brought on women throughout the world.


Filed under Books

6 responses to “In the Body of the World

  1. I am all for you writing more frequent short reviews because it means you post more often 🙂 Though I am not certain my TBR pile is eager! While this one sounds like a really interesting book, I don’t think I will be rushing out to rad it.


    • I’m glad you approve of my plan 🙂 And I look forward to making your TBR pile worse, as you do mine! The Ensler book isn’t for everyone, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it widely. It does interesting, important things, but it’s also a difficult read.


  2. I feel just as you do about the desire to post but not in the way I used to. Craving the conversation but not the time demands my past blogging habits required. Wishing us both success in trying! I miss our exchanges. 🙂


    • Yes, time is really the problem, and also energy. I loved the social aspect of blogging, but it’s really hard to comment regularly on other people’s blogs and reply to comments here in addition to writing posts. Sometimes that in itself would keep me from posting. So yes, good luck to both of us!


  3. Oh, I’ve been meaning to do the same about shorter and more frequent posts, but the energy to condense my thoughts into 100 words is almost as taxing as for a more rambling post. I’ll try again though. Ensler isn’t quite my cup of tea, so I might pass on this one.


    • Yeah, sometimes writing shorter is harder than writing long. I’m finding that something like 300 words might work for me. It’s long enough that it’s not too hard to say what I want to say, but not so long that I’m intimidated to write it.


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