EX UTERO by Laurie Foos


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An ambitious first novel that uses heavy-handed satire to illuminate current issues of sexual difference, reproduction, and media-hype.

When 30-ish Rita, long married to George, realizes that she's lost her uterus while buying shoes at the mall, she blames ``her ambivalent feelings about having children.'' But her efforts to get the uterus back provoke extraordinary events: George can't make love to her anymore, because the ``thought of the womb out in the world somewhere so cold and lifeless kills his erection every time''; her ad asking for help attracts a group of militant feminists, The Fruitless Wombs, who get her on the popular Nodderman TV show; and her appearance on Nodderman not only tremendously affects the women in the audience but so upsets one of them, Adele, that she finds her vagina has ``closed up shop''--and her boyfriend's efforts to reopen it with his carpentry tools only result in his injuring himself. As the media hype continues, demands for the red-heeled shoes Rita wore on the Nodderman Show lead to a run on red shoes, as well as growing foot fetishism, and men's increased erotic awareness of the uterus. The frenzy reaches its height when another woman, Lucy, begins menstruating in sympathy--and can't stop, though her flowing blood kills her dog. When Rita and Adele hear of this while appearing together on the Nodderman Show, they flee, hole up in a motel, and tell each other childbirth horror stories. Finally, though, a suicide by a hemophiliac who'd tied a plastic uterus round his neck makes Rita realize that ``she has a responsibility to put an end to the suffering on her behalf,'' and the women return to make new lives for themselves. Despite the graphic, sometimes grotesque descriptions and frenetically energetic writing,

Foos's satire is never quite on target--and never much more than clever.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56689-030-6
Page count: 190pp
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995


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