Ex Utero–Laurie Foos

The premise of this book intrigued me.  A thirty-one-year old woman visits the mall to buy red high heels and loses her uterus.  It gets goofier from there. Her husband, once he realizes she is without a uterus, is unable to maintain an erection and takes to sitting on the floor naked and drawing outlines of his flaccid penis.  She draws what she thinks her uterus looks like and posts placards in the mall and around town. When she is in the mall seeking her womb, her hand is run over by a woman pushing a stroller and the stroller track becomes a talisman that she rubs regularly.   She becomes the poster child of a women’s group.  She appears on a talk show with a white-haired male host.  During that appearance, another woman’s vagina seals itself.  That woman’s boyfriend, a carpenter, tries to drill, literally, his way into her vagina and takes to beating his erection with a hammer.  The two women take off together Thelma and Louise style.  Everyone seems to eat scrambled eggs.  Fertility is an undercurrent–the strollers, the impotence, the men whose erections strain their zippers with the public discourse about uteri (which spell check just now taught me is the plural of uterus).

I would love to say I understood the book, that I closed the cover and sighed, “Yes, I get that.”  I did not.  It was fun and I think Foos had fun thinking about the way we take our uteri for granted, our fertility for granted, what it means to our identities as women and men.  Maybe because I have recently chosen to relinquish my fertility ahead of biological necessity I watched as an outsider thinking how interesting the rituals of these natives.  The women who began bleeding and could not stop, who suddenly saw her own affinity with her dog who bled while in heat and licked at herself to hide the evidence–this woman interested me because of the multitude of cultural taboos around bleeding and menstruation, but her story is fairly brief and wrapped up almost as an after thought.  I wonder how Foos would have written this story were she forty-something rather than twenty-something.

Finished 8/22/15


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