"Sex is the answer to death."—Charlotte Roche
In her controversial first novel, Wetlands, which The New York Times called "a cri de coeur against the oppression of a waxed, shaved, douched and otherwise sanitized women’s world”, Roche wrote about sex and the female body in an unprecedentedly frank and intimate way. Roche's second novel, Wrecked is just as raw and powerful as her debut, but is a more mature and impressive work that deals with sex, death, fidelity, and the question of what is expected from a twenty-first century wife and mother.
"It's easier to give a blow job than to make coffee." That's what Elizabeth Kiehl, mother of seven-year-old Liza thinks to herself, after a particularly lengthy and inventive bout of sex with her husband Georg—recounted in detail over the book's first twenty pages. Elizabeth goes to great efforts to pleasure her husband in the bedroom, and also is an extremely thoughtful and caring mother to her daughter. But the perfect mother and wife act she puts on hides a painful past and a tragic rift in her psyche, which she is working through in weekly sessions with her therapist. Sex is the other tool that she uses to relax herself. Elizabeth and Georg watch porn together, and even go off on joint trips to a local brothel for threesomes with prostitutes while their daughter is at school. But is their relationship unhealthy, even tragic, or just a very modern marriage?
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 going to therapy, pleasing her husband sexually, being the perfect mother to her daughter Liza, and saving the environment all 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.