Schossgebete opens with 15 pages of pornography, describing a married couple having sex with the electric blankets on and the windows closed, as the heroine prefers.

She’s a victim of her own ferociously high standards and atrociously low self- esteem.

Her second novel, which entered Der Spiegel’s fiction bestseller listat slot No. 1 this week, is also not for the fainthearted. It’s titled “Schossgebete,” a made-up word that is a play on Stossgebet — a desperate prayer — and Schoss, which can refer to the female reproductive organs though more generally means the lap area.

“Schossgebete” opens with 15 pages of pornography, describing a married couple having sex with the electric blankets on and the windows closed, as the heroine prefers.

Yet like its predecessor “Wetlands,” whose yuckiness cloaks the story of a lost girl trying to reunite her divorced parents, “Schossgebete” presents an exhaustively intimate psychological portrait of a very disturbed young woman.

The reader is forced into voyeurism — and not just of the sexual variety — as Roche bares all in this relentlessly frank, often funny novel about a troubled 33-year-old traumatized by a tragedy in her past. The author admitted in an interview with Spiegel that it is dangerously close to autobiography.

Brothel Visits

Elizabeth Kiehl is determined to hold on to her family — her older husband and seven-year-old daughter — yet she yearns for Georg’s approval to have an adulterous affair. They visit brothels and watch porn films together to meet his sexual urges, even though Elizabeth is tormented by jealousy. She has a phobia about big breasts (hers are small), a father complex, depression, has struggled with anorexia and carries a huge burden of guilt because her three brothers were killed in a car crash on the way to her wedding. She says she would die without her psychotherapist, whose job it is to heal her so she can be a good mother and wife. Struggling to be everything to everyone, she’s a victim of her own ferociously high standards and atrociously low self- esteem. Those standards come from the images of advertising, pornography and the media.

Excruciating

The key event in the novel — a terrible Belgian highway crash before her wedding — is based on Roche’s own life. The details are excruciating. Why didn’t her mother, who was driving and survived with horrific burns, turn around to look at the brothers before she was dragged away from the car? Were they dead before the gas tank exploded? Why did Elizabeth have to try on her wedding dress one more time before they left? Why did she have to choose such a big dress that they had to bring it by car instead of flying? This emotional exhibitionism is as hard to take as the graphic descriptions of anal sex. Writing is a form of therapy for Roche, but why must we participate in the sessions?

Her first book “Feuchtgebiete,” titled “Wetlands” in English, sat at the top of the Spiegel bestseller list for more than six months. Full of pus, scabs and bodily secretions as well as raw sex, it’s the kind of book 14-year-olds boast about having read, though no responsible adult would let them anywhere near it.

Roche said in the Spiegel interview that even her husband, who took “Wetlands” in his stride, was shocked at the new novel. He won’t be the only one. Yet there are lines that made me laugh out loud. And I won’t forget her definition of kitsch as a denial of death and defecation. No one can accuse Roche of peddling kitsch. “Schossgebete” is published by Piper Verlag (288 pages, 16.99 euros in Germany.) The English-language translation rights are still in negotiation. (Catherine Hickley writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.) To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net. Article courtesy of : bloomberg.com