- Paperback: 390 pages
- Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press; 1 edition (October 8, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937543331
- ISBN-13: 978-1937543334
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,454,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Something Wrong With Her: a real-time memoir Paperback – October 8, 2013
About the Author
Cris Mazza is the author of over 17 books, including Various Men Who Knew Us as Girls, Waterbaby, Trickle-Down Timeline, and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? Her first novel, How to Leave a Country, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction. Mazza has co-edited three anthologies, including Men Undressed: Women Writers on the Male Sexual Experience. In addition to fiction, Mazza has authored collection of personal essays, Indigenous: Growing Up Californian. Currently living 50 miles west of Chicago, she is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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The memoir reads in linear fashion - it needs to do so in order for the reader to follow - but the shape and progression of the narrative derives from Mazza's exposed, closer-than-most inquiry into what she begins with as a specific issue. Her story is complicated, though perhaps not as atypical at it first seems. The text is visually compelling, cobbled from photocopied journals, letters, drawings, and pink slips, and told via remembered conversations, investigations, analyses from-and-of 30 years-worth - up to the present, where the book ends - of self-examination on the subject of love. The emotional work Mazza has undertaken during the most recent of those 30 years and exposed in these pages, would be expected to result in revealing her path ahead. Instead they steam-roll Mazza even deeper under the introspective glass. She divulges human flaws which she sees in herself as extreme and the cause of failed relationships, and ultimately lays these failures at the feet of what she diagnoses for herself: anorgasmia. This is where Mazza initially locates the foundation of her problems with love.
The female orgasm isn't talked about like it used to be, at least in the circles I frequent. Maybe it should be. Statistically, more than one in ten adult women has never had an orgasm. The demons underlying this are many: psychological, physical, intellectual, familial, religious, social and other. They are addressed directly or obliquely by Mazza, and recognized by her as significant but not determinants in her own troubled sexuality. There is more to it. She can't pinpoint blame, but clearly wants an explanation. No sex seminars for her, no couples therapy, no self-help books, no mirrors between her legs to look at her own vagina - which she confesses must be inadequate and dirty and why would any man want to go there? Mazza is searching for an answer, a way to be good enough, but she questions what she seeks, reflecting - often to obsession - on what could be Wrong With Her because, clearly, she doesn't feel good enough. Even without the profoundly complicating issue of sex, `good enough' is a notion we all understand. What makes us and what we do, good enough?
The book was written as she searched her past, urging the suffering of a loner teen into the present, some of the trauma still alive and active in the people she writes about. She presents like an archaeologist, taking a whack at the unbroken ground of her psyche, then picking up the soft brush to reveal greater and great detail: the minutia of logic and its exceptions, the shoulds, the what ifs, the maybe somedays. And, of course, the reflexive process of the writing itself, questioning every thought as her thoughts shift.
Mazza has taken a risk in writing this book. Its pathos is real and her willingness to expose herself to public scrutiny is astonishing. Yet, I suspect Mazza is not a gambler. The risks she takes in her writing, are not housed in her body, but in her mind over which she maintains control. That she both wants to control her body and release control of her body is the conundrum.
For safety, for protection against physical and emotional pain, she holds on to her familiar habits and processes for they produce what, for her, at this point, has to be good enough. She won't easily trust. She's not a diver. She's a wader, noting every reed, every swell in the water before venturing a toe. Counting trees. She gets close to resolution of the forest this way, and it may be the only way she can. In the physical world, however - the one whose air we breathe, not the one we create on the page however true - in the world of other people and countless uncontrollable variables, resolution must always be ephemeral. Do you know Zeno's Paradox? Wherein you traverse half the distance between you and your objective, then another half, and another, and another... The lesson: you can't get there from here.
So Mazza ends the narrative with another paradox. Someone she ran from 30 years ago, now runs from her. She gets as close as she can.
Reading Cris Mazza's new memoir is a truly jolting experience. There is so much going on all at once that the emotion there is nearly overwhelming. She makes it obvious to you what she's thinking in present time, but Something Wrong With Her is also like stepping into the past with the help of journal entries, letters, doodles, textbook quotes, jazz terms, excerpts from Mazza's past publications, and the memories and emails of her dear friend Mark. The book doesn't really have an ending point because it's alive; what she wrote about is still happening. Let me back up....
Read the rest (and a brief INTERVIEW with the author) at Grab the Lapels!