Friday, July 12, 2013

In the Body of the World

In the Body of the World : A Memoir
by Eve Ensler


Paperback, 220 pages
Published: April, 2013
Publisher:  Random House India
ISBN:  9780805095180

Blurb: From the bestselling author of The Vagina Monologues and one of Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Changed the World, a visionary memoir of separation and connection—to the body, the self, and the world

Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”

But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body—pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.

Unflinching, generous, and inspiring, Ensler calls on us all to embody our connection to and responsibility for the world.

Lately, I have been in love with reading Memoirs. After reading some quite nice ones, when I got my hands on Eve Ensler’s In the Body of the World, I couldn’t wait to get through it. As I read it, I realised I have become a sucker for memories. Be it mine, a friend’s, or an author’s. I love the idea of memories.

I had heard a lot about Eve Ensler before I got to read In the Body of the World. Her very acclaimed book, The Vagina Monologues had gathered all the praise it could. Being a burgeoning feminist myself, I instantly became a fan of Ensler for all that she has done for the women on the face of this earth.

Ensler’s memoir, In the Body of the World is primarily an account of her fight with her cancer. A uterine cancer that emptied her from within, quite literally.  This book is as much an account of the atrocities meted out to the women of Congo, and the making of their dream place, the City of Joy.

The first thing that intrigued me about the book was its index. She called it SCANS. I wondered what the SCANS was about. And just as you are through a few pages, she tells us why. And you are just awestruck at her capabilities and the uprightness that she shows towards life.  

The book, if to be described in a word, should be ‘heart-wrenching’. The images that Ensler shows us are vivid, and explicitly disturbing. Ensler doesn’t  hold back. She gives you the details of every damn disturbing thing in such a raw and graphic language that you would squint your eyes and say ‘Ew!’ Until now, of all the books I have read, In the Body of the World was the most disturbing one. And I loved it for that.

The women of Congo, the centre of attention for Eve even during her turbulent times of cancer, steal the show. So much that has been written about them, it made me feel more and more related and identifiable to them.

No wonder that the book is depressingly explicit in terms of the imagery, it is humorous. You would want to laugh in all the heart ache that Ensler gives you. This is the biggest thing that makes obvious the brilliance of Ensler as a writer. The way she marries laughter with tears, my hats off to her.

Eve’s language (Gosh, I am addressing her as Eve as if she were my childhood chum! But I felt closer and closer to her as I read the book. OMG! She is such an amazing writer) is like a conversation. You feel like she is talking to you; sitting in front of you sipping coffee and telling you everything that has gone by in her life lately. The book sounds like a diary. It is filled with casual but strong metaphors. And what took my heart away were the short chapters. Yes, I am a sucker for short chapters too.

She makes you feel ‘in her head’.

At last I would say, Eve Ensler makes you introspect. Whether you want it or not. She is a spiritual guide! I found it out right when she talked of the somnolence in all of us.  “The choice between being awake or half asleep,” she says.

You got to read the book to know it all. It is totally, totally worth your time.

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