Photo by the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Ever since I started doing poetry slams and that, people have been coming up to me and telling me I'm like Charlotte Roche. Some of them meant it as a compliment, some of them didn't, and I always kind of despised them for it. Not just because she's totally successful and I'm just a random girl with a laptop and a blog.
And so it's totally depressing, like when a boy tries to come onto you in a disco by telling you that you look like Melanie Sykes or Salma Hayek or someone, just because you have the same colour hair, like you're gonna be so flattered you're gonna start sucking them off immediately, even though you know they are a million times hotter than you.
FUCK IT'S DEPRESSING.
But that isn't the only reason. Roche and I are quite fundamentally different, you know? Fundamentally. Because, and I know I don't always pull it off, but because I want to be funny. That's all I want. That's all I want in life. I just want to be funny.
And I would say anything: I'd admit to having raped a baby bunny for the fun of it, murdered my granny for a bet or wanked off a homeless guy for a fiver, IF there was a laugh in it. I'd say ANYTHING if I thought you would laugh afterwards. That's all I want. I just want the people to laugh. That's all.
Charlotte Roche doesn't care about whether people laugh or not, though. Well, she doesn't need them to laugh, that's the thing. That first book she wrote, Feuchtgebiete, well, that was literally no laughing matter. It was all about this teenager who'd infected herself by shaving her arse and well, to be honest, I couldn't get through it. I know a lot of people think I have no Grenzen whatsoever, but to be honest, I just found it kind of disgusting and disturbing.
The truth is, ultimately, I'm kind of a squeamish person. Actually, I'm totally squeamish. I once threw up just because my friend Jamie burped too loudly. I'm a squeamish person. I'm squeamish. I just want to make people laugh, that's all.
So, yep, I found Feuchtgebiete exhausting. Plus, even though I've been living in this country for approximately 1,000,000 years, I still find it pretty tricky, reading books in German. So, when she started going on about how she'd been smearing her Muschi all over the Klobrille, I thought she meant the toilet brush.
And I was pretty appalled. I got in one evening, when I'd been trying to read the book on the train, and I whispered to my boyfriend in a panic-stricken, traumatized voice: “Charlotte Roche smeared her Muschi all over the toilet brush, Ben.”
My boyfriend, who is much cleverer and a thousand times better at German than I am, took the book off of me and looked at it for approximately 2.7 seconds. Then he looked up and said: “It's not her, it's a fictional character, and it's not the toilet brush, it's just the toilet seat. Klobrille. Toilet seat.”
I felt that sense of relief that is almost disappointment, you know? Like, almost an anti-climax. I was like: “Oh. She just smeared her Muschi over the toilet seat! That's almost totally normal behaviour. Halb so schlimm.” I gave the book up a few pages later, though. It was when she started shooting avocado stones out of her Muschi like cannon balls. I just couldn't take it anymore. I'm a very squeamish person.
Anyways, I've read her second book, Schoßgebete, now. Yeah, I know – I have really, really boring, predictable tastes when it comes to reading German books: I've read Charlotte Roche and Eva Herman and Philipp Lahm is, like, totally next on my list. But Schoßgebete is, basically a really good book.
At first I thought it was really porny and meaningless. There's this opening sex scene which is really clinical and cold, and fairly smug. I was getting really pissed off reading it. I was like: everyone knows that this smug bitch is actually frigid as fuck. But about halfway through, the book gets really good – almost unbearably honest, frightening, horrific, really – and then that makes all the hygienic sex at the beginning start to make sense. It's a good book. It's worth reading.
“You should read it,” I told my friend the other day. “It's a good book. It's worth reading. It's actually worth reading.”
“Oh, no,” she said. “I hate her. I really hate her. She's so annoying in interviews.”
“I don't like her either,” I said. “And the protaganist in the book is just absolutely fucking unbearable. But do you have to like an author to appreciate their texts? Like, to appreciate their art? Does every author whose works you like have to be someone you could imagine hanging out with?”
“It's not meant to be art, that book,” my friend said. “It's meant to be self-help. Charlotte Roche doesn't even mean it to be art. She thinks she's helping us. She thinks she's teaching us a lesson. I hate her on a personal level. I know I won't be able to bear the book.”
And I started thinking: what if my friend was right? What if Charlotte Roche means for her book to be read as a kind of self-help manual, and not a work of fiction? Having finished the book, I don't think she does, to be honest. But imagine if she did: would that make it any less of a book? Can an author write a book “better” than their own personality? More authentic, wiser, even? Is that possible? Can the books people write know more than the people themselves? Read Schoßgebete for yourselves, you guys, and tell me what you think. I think it's really fucking brilliant.