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The Camera My Mother Gave Me takes us through Susanna Kaysen’s often comic, sometimes surreal encounters with all kinds of doctors—internists, gynecologists, “alternative health” experts—as well as with her boyfriend and her friends, when suddenly, inexplicably, “something went wrong” with her vagina.
The title comes from Luis Buñuel’s film Viridiana. Some peasants are at a banquet in a country mansion. They ask a maid to take a group snapshot, and she obliges, lifting up her skirt and using the “camera” that’s underneath.
Kaysen’s The Camera My Mother Gave Me observes what happens when sexual pleasure is replaced by pain. “When eros goes away,” she writes, “it’s as if I’m colorblind. The world is gray.” But is this a problem of body, or mind? And can clinicians tease out the difference between the two?
Spare, frank, and altogether original, The Camera My Mother Gave Me challenges us to think in new ways about the centrality and power of sexuality. It is an extraordinary investigation into the role sex plays in perception and our notions of ourselves—and into what happens when the erotic impulse meets the world of medicine
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This isn't a book you'll want to pull out on a crowded train, with clinical terms like clitoris and vulvologist, not to mention earthier ones like the F word, on virtually every page to attract the startled attention of the passenger in the next seat. Bluntly describing her yearlong effort to deal with a searing pain in her vagina, Susanna Kaysen doesn't stint on the details of what this malady did to her relationship with her boyfriend (nothing good), nor is she forgiving of the callousness and stupidity displayed by some of her doctors and various alternative health practitioners. Yet her appalling saga is compulsively readable, thanks to Kaysen's propulsive prose and sharp dialogue. She's particularly good at capturing the way people talk about their ailments over dinner and in the middle of other activities. Conversations with friends ramble from her medical problem to tiger maple furniture in an utterly convincing way, and one darkly funny scene shows a pal urging Kaysen to buy a coral necklace following a particularly horrid visit to the doctor because, "You have to get a nice thing after that appointment." Kaysen's laconic humor keeps the book from seeming self-pitying, though her terseness tends to muffle its emotional impact; she expresses her emotions without really conveying them to the reader in any depth. Nonetheless, the pared-down candor that made her portrait of mental illness so gripping in Girl, Interrupted also distinguishes this account of a decidedly physical affliction. --Wendy SmithFrom the Publisher:
"A vagina dialogue: pithy, funny, adventurous, sexy, and eye-opening. . . . Disguised as plain, brown memoir, [this is] a voluptuous exploration of sexuality, aging, the failures of modern medicine, attempts at self-knowledge, and the meaning of pain."- Kirkus
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Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0679443908 . Seller Inventory # Z0679443908ZN
Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0679443908 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0679443908ZN
Book Description Knopf, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First edition. 1st stated. 0679443908 New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 176 p. Audience: General/trade. Seller Inventory # 0002113
Book Description Knopf, 2001. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0679443908
Book Description Knopf, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1. Seller Inventory # DADAX0679443908
Book Description Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Included. 1st Edition.... New York: Knopf . First edition. First printing. Hardbound. New/new. Very fine/very fine in all respects. A pristine unread copy. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. 0.0. Seller Inventory # jill499
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001. Hard Cover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. First Edition (stated). FIRST PRINTING of the First Edition (stated). The frank memoirs of a woman experiencing tremendous vaginal pain and her long journey through a variety of medical internists, gynecologists, vulvologists, alternative health experts, her boyfriend and her other friends, the psychological issues related to sexuality that she came to understand, the impulses of eros itself, much more. Hardcover with dust jacket, 157pp. A very nice copy. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 00013138
Book Description Knopf. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0679443908 Dispatched from London. Seller Inventory # Z0679443908ZN
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. Hard cover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 176 p. Audience: General/trade. From Publishers Weekly Eight years ago, Kaysen's affecting story of her two years in a psychiatric hospital, Girl, Interrupted, helped sparked the memoir craze and later became a Hollywood blockbuster. Now Kaysen, also an accomplished novelist (Asa, As I Knew Him; Far Afield), returns with this thin, disappointing chronicle of what happened when "something went wrong" with her vagina. The terse narrative chronicles her quest to determine the cause of and cure for disabling vaginal pain vestibulitis, the medical term for a "sore spot" on the wall of her vagina. The most intriguing element is Kaysen's explosive relationship with an unnamed live-in boyfriend who, despite her pain, pressures her to have intercourse: "I want to fuck you, goddammit, he said, lunging at me, pushing his hand between my legs. I jumped out of bed. I was naked.I ran downstairs. All I could think of was to get away from the bed and from him and his fingers. I pressed my back against the wall in the living room and shook, from cold and the remnants of my desire. " Later, sans boyfriend, Kaysen reflects too briefly on how she's changed as her desire for sex evaporates, concluding, "when eros goes away, life gets dull. " Stingy with basic facts the reader is left wondering how old she is and how she spends her days (writing? teaching? ) the memoir is admirable in its honesty and insights into medicine's limits. (Oct. )Forecast: Already the subject of a New York Times piece suggesting this "autopathography" may become the target of a backlash against such transgressive confessions, Kaysen's slight memoir will spark some controversy, but don't expect Girl, Interrupted-level sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Seller Inventory # 0003358
Book Description Knopf, 2001. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110679443908