At Full Stop, Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon examines Elizabeth Hall’s I Have Devoted My Life to The Clitoris in a review that is at once intensely personal and highly intelligent — the sort of review that, frankly, gives an indie publisher reason to continue breathing (and to continue publishing books).
Here’s an excerpt:
In her concise, evocative, and moving extended essay I Have Devoted My Life to The Clitoris, Elizabeth Hall considers the clitoris as a phenomenon, a unique detail that represents the numinous something that escapes — but demands — description: orgasm. Clocking in at an appropriate 69 pages including bibliography and acknowledgements and written in bullet-points divided into short, thematic chapters, the mimetic form of this essay proves Hall’s devotion to her object of study: the clitoris. That is, this slim volume unfolds in discrete, clitoral passages that, with a little time and attention, become more than themselves.
Hall’s extensive research includes close-readings of medical discourse from the sixth century to the present, revealing the irrational, phobic bases for much of the supposedly rational, scientific discourse on the clitoris, and from there, female sexuality and sexuality in general. Her bullet-points are written as simple, sometimes lyrical mini-paragraphs, that turn from regressive medical discourse and treatment of intersexed infants, to suggestive work of writers including Anaïs Nin and D. H. Lawrence, to pornography with titles like Squirt Queens, to her relationship with her own clit, body, and partners. In interspersing glancing analyses of these kinds of disparate cultural artifacts, Hall can evoke in her reader’s mind questions about many things including: the limits and potentials of language, the indeterminacy and implications of sexual difference, and the culturally relative, socially constructed and situated nature of science and ethics. But, Hall does this without the esoteric, overly-academic tone usually associated with these topics….
After all, it’s a book about fucking, and coming. It’s fun to read….