The Camera My Mother Gave Me
By Susanna Kaysen
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679763437, 160pp.)
Publication Date: October 8, 2002
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Susanna Kaysen, who wrote about her teenage depression in the bestseller Girl, Interrupted, now takes on another taboo: her vagina–which suddenly and inexplicably starts to hurt. And neither Kaysen’s cheery gynecologist, nor her internist, nor a laconic “vulvologist” has the cure. An alternative health nurse suggests direct application of tea, baking soda, and boric acid. Others recommend novocaine, oatmeal, “bio-feedback,” and anti-depressants. Nothing works. As sex becomes more and more painful, Kaysen’s relationship with her boyfriend disintegrates and she turns to her best friends, her wicked sense of humor, and finally wry self-reflection to get herself through.
Using this unusual lens, Kaysen challenges us to think in new ways about the centrality and power of sexuality. The Camera My Mother Gave Me is an unexpected and revelatory book from one of our most candid, insightful and consistently surprising writers.
Susanna Kaysen is the author of the novels Far Afield and Asa, As I Knew Him and the memoir Girl, Interrupted. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Scary, thought-provoking, and humorous. . . . Kaysen painstakingly constructs her own brilliant vagina monologue.” –Elle
“Hilarious . . . intelligent and deeply felt . . . always interesting and, alas, occasionally heartbreaking.” –The Boston Globe
“Strangely seductive, even entertaining, and frequently funny. . . . When one body part starts sending out a signal that can’t be ignored, you can suddenly find yourself viewing friendships, partnerships, even inanimate objects through a different lens.” –Newsday
“Pithy, funny, adventurous, sexy, and eye-opening. . . . Disguised as plain, brown memoir . . . [The Camera My Mother Gave Me is] a voluptuous exploration of sexuality, aging, the failures of modern medicine, attempts at self-knowledge, and the meaning of pain.” –Kirkus