My Body Is A Book of Rules

My Body Is A Book of Rules

Book - 2014
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"A candid, autobiographical scrapbook from a young woman navigating manic depression....A fever dream of darkly personal memories and musings from the shadowy corners of sexual violence and mental illness."
--Kirkus Review

As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren't threatening her life, they're shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan's mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.

Publisher: Pasadena, CA : Red Hen Press, [2014]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781597099691
Branch Call Number: 970.0049 WASHUTA
Characteristics: 189 pages ; 26 cm


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Oct 05, 2019

This book was hard to get through, and not just because of the things she survived. It is hard to follow because of the time lines, and it meanders all over the place.

Nov 11, 2018

I generally like books that experiment with form and structure and Elissa Washuta's "My Body is a Book of Rules," while billed as a memoir, is much more inventive that the limitations and formulas of the genre. Washuta, a Cowlitz Indian born in New Jersey, writes about culture, race, religion, sex, the body, and education, among other things, in an unflinching and penetrating way that almost dares you to look away. I discovered this on the Powell's list of books for Native American Heritage Month. See below.
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