As brave and boldly candid as Plaintext, Mairs' 1986 collection of essays, this autobiographical ramble allows the author to examine even more closely the shaping forces of her life in a conscious effort to form a feminist memoir, concentrating not on the "logical coherence and rationalization" expected within "the ivory phallus" but on her own erotic development (banhus is Anglo-Saxon for the body as a dwelling place) and on feminine erotic development in general. Mairs reviews her own difficult personal history (menstrual misery, depressions, suicide attempts, multiple sclerosis) and less disturbing scenes (extended family benefactions) in the houses of her past, gathering up feelings and fantasies from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood with a sure hand. Although even this partial listing of her adversities might sound intimidating, her tone is neither recriminatory nor sorrowful but genuinely exploratory. Moreover, she writes poignantly about common epiphanies (boyfriends, prom dresses) as well as the first foot-drop fall presaging MS or husband George's pained response to her infidelities. Ultimately, Mairs learns to negotiate the misimpressions and failed dreams, to understand what her body represents, and to find validation--in fact, the center of her sanity--in writing. A remarkable woman's clouded life, rich in themes both unique and broadly familiar, contemplated in deeply involving detail.