The one good thing about bad books is that they can give rise to brilliant book reviews. Such is the case with Florence King’s review of Naomi Wolf’s latest offering, Vagina: A New Biography. This may well be the funniest book review I’ve ever read. Admittedly, Wolf provides a reviewer with lots of material for satire and ridicule, but King is brilliant:
If you thought there was nothing new to say about female sexuality, you don’t know Naomi Wolf’s gift for saying nothing new about anything. In her 1991 bestseller, The Beauty Myth, she revealed that attractive women are luckier than homely women. A human shoehorn, she used her subsequent fame to ease herself into the role of political consultant in the 2000 presidential race and reveal that Al Gore has the personality of a tree. She took charge of his wardrobe and revealed his true nature as a resplendent autumnal tree by making him wear socks in warm, earthy colors and teaching him to cross his legs so that they showed.
Now she has uncrossed her own legs and written the life and times of her vagina.
Please, please, read the whole thing. Just make sure you’re not drinking coffee when you read, or you may find yourself liberally spraying your keyboard and monitor.
There was only one part of the review that dismayed me, and that was King’s (accurate) observation that Wolf is a lousy writer:
At least a few feminists of the Seventies wrote well, but Naomi Wolf is a very sloppy stylist. Two brief examples will suffice: “The G-spot is actually part of the clitoris — the back of the clitoris, essentially — which in turn turns out to be much bigger.” And: “By lowering their blood pressure, men’s stroking the women they love regularly can even help protect the women from heart disease and stroke.”
Naomi and I shared the same high school English teacher, and Flossie would never have countenanced this kind of sloppiness. It just goes to show that the Ivy League experience (Naomi went to Yale), can undo even the best education.