BODY by Sharon Sloan Fiffer

BODY

KIRKUS REVIEW

Let us now celebrate body parts, in this collection of generally fine essays from talented writers. Some of the 18 authors, like Jane Smiley, Mona Simpson, and Esmeralda Santiago, have contributed to the Fiffers’ earlier collections (Home, 1995; Family, 1996). Here both writers and editors seem to be hitting their stride with this format, with commentaries diverse in both tone and subject. Eyes, brain, hair, nose, teeth, scar tissue—literally head to toe—are themes of the individual sketches that the Fiffers have coaxed into this anthology. Smiley delights in her belly, whether flat or protruding with child; cartoonist Lynda Barry believes teeth are the “music [of] the face.” There is a challenging reflection on death, rebirth, and transformation from Richard McCann, who received a liver transplant (how would Lazarus, raised from the dead, be feeling?, he wonders). Thomas Lynch takes on the womb, beginning with his Roman Catholic rosaries (“blessed is the fruit of thy womb”), although he gets it seriously wrong in equating the Immaculate Conception with the Virgin Birth. Lynch does raise the question of whether men should have a choice in acknowledging paternity, as women have the choice of terminating pregnancy. Ron Carlson offers nothing new in his reflections on the penis, but Kyoko Mori runs engagingly along on the subject of her feet. Editor Sharon Fiffer discusses how she has mentally peopled the chambers of her heart with those she loves and despises (it got so crowded, she added a few rooms), and Rosario FerrÇ joyously celebrates “The Butt” both for its sexuality and its role as purifier of inner waste. Overall a winsome compendium, suitable for bedside or seaside, where body parts can be contemplated in their (relative) nakedness.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1999
ISBN: 0-380-97713-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999




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