The History of My Body

“How to Manage the Void”

I am going to be up front here. I love this book, which is in large part due to its main character, Fleur Robins, daughter of an ultra-Conservative US Senator from Pennsylvania and an alcoholic mother who had Fleur as a teenager. Fleur is one of the most delightful, complex, and often contradictory child characters since Holden Caulfield in JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great—two characters that had a profound impact on my childhood and, subsequently, my life.

Perhaps it is my own growing fascination with Complexity and Chaos Theory, but I have been noticing a recent trend in storytelling—be it novels, television, or (to a lesser extent) film—that comes into play with Sharon Heath’s approach. It began with the male anti-hero in television shows like The Leftovers and Walking Dead, who is flawed, isolated, and oftentimes just plain Wrong. That trend has now broadened and extended to not only female characters, but to entire families. I just finished watching the debut season of Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Not only are the relationships between spouses, parents and children, bosses and co-workers, neighbors, and so on incredibly Complex and always on the verge of or in the midst of Chaos, but these multi-level flaws create a much richer, deeper view of Life as We Know It than I think was ever possible before. Continue reading

The History of My Body

A dazzling coming of age story

Reviewed by Malcolm R. Campbell

“The Bible says that in the beginning was the void, and it hasn’t escaped me how fast the Lord moved to take care of His own particular vacuum—dividing day from night, spitting out vast oceans, carving out competing continents that would one day have the power to blow each other up. What an inspired series of creations to keep the devil of boredom at bay. No wonder God kept seeing that it was good.”

So begins the story of Fleur Robins.

Fleur Robins is called creepy child, poor child, little monster, odd duck, space cadet and assorted other synonyms for “weird” by almost everyone who notices her existence and tries to figure out whether she is gifted, autistic, simply hopeless or hopelessly simple. Fleur’s imagination contains many worlds because—as she explains life as the fifteen-year-old narrator of The History of My Body—positioning her body and mind “just this side of the lurking pit of nothingness” requires constant vigilance and ingenuity. Continue reading