A frank, witty, and dazzlingly written memoir of one woman trying to keep it together while her body falls apart—from the “brilliant mind” (Michaela Coel, creator of I May Destroy You) behind Shutterbabe
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE • “The most laugh-out-loud story of resilience you’ll ever read and an essential road map for the importance of narrative as a tool of healing.”—Lori Gottlieb, bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
I’m crawling around on the bathroom floor, picking up pieces of myself. These pieces are not a metaphor. They are actual pieces.
Twenty years after her iconic memoir Shutterbabe, Deborah Copaken is at her darkly comedic nadir: battered, broke, divorcing, dissected, and dying—literally—on sexism’s battlefield as she scoops up what she believes to be her internal organs into a glass container before heading off to the hospital . . . in an UberPool.
Ladyparts is Copaken’s irreverent inventory of both the female body and the body politic of womanhood in America, the story of one woman brought to her knees by the one-two-twelve punch of divorce, solo motherhood, healthcare Frogger, unaffordable childcare, shady landlords, her father’s death, college tuitions, sexual harassment, corporate indifference, ageism, sexism, and plain old bad luck. Plus seven serious illnesses, one atop the other, which provide the book’s narrative skeleton: vagina, uterus, breast, heart, cervix, brain, and lungs. Copaken bounces back from each bum body part, finds workarounds for every setback—she transforms her home into a commune to pay rent, sells her soul for health insurance, turns FBI informant when her sexual harasser gets a presidential appointment—but in her slippery struggle to survive a steep plunge off the middle-class ladder, she is suddenly awoken to what it means to have no safety net.
Side-splittingly funny one minute, a freak horror show the next, quintessentially American throughout, Ladyparts is an era-defining memoir.
About the Author
Deborah Copaken is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including Shutterbabe, The Red Book, and Between Here and April. A contributing writer at The Atlantic, and she was also a TV writer on Emily in Paris, a performer (The Moth, etc.), and an Emmy Award-winning news producer and photojournalist. Her photographs have appeared in Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Observer, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Slate, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Paris Match, among other publications. Her column, “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist,” was adapted for the Modern Love streaming series. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
“The most laugh-out-loud story of resilience you’ll ever read and an essential road map for the importance of narrative as a tool of healing: How we tell our stories is just as important—if not more so—as the plot twists we experience.”—Lori Gottlieb, bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
“A brilliant mind and a really brilliant impressive and quite shocking life.”—Michaela Coel, creator of I May Destroy You
“Terrifying, enraging, heartbreakingly funny—I recommend it for everyone I know, but most of all to the men. We know almost nothing about the women we love, their bodies, and their struggles. Don’t look away. Read this book.”—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
“Ladyparts is, quite simply, a beautiful book. Equal part harrowing and hilarious, enraging and heartwarming, it’s a memoir unlike any other. It will open your eyes to what it means to be female in a male world, older in a society built around youth worship—or just on the wrong side of variance when the lottery of genes and life doesn’t turn in your favor. And it will do it all while making you laugh, cry, and scream in turn. I couldn’t put it down.”—Maria Konnikova, The New York Times bestselling author of The Biggest Bluff and The Confidence Game
“Ladyparts is a first-rate example of the contemporary memoir: harrowing, sad, funny, revelatory, true. Were you to misconstrue the title, you might think this was all simply anatomy, which would be fine, but as with all the best memoirs what this work really anatomizes is how it all feels—in the mind, in the soul, and in the nick of time. Copaken’s memoir is poignant, necessary, and very rewarding.”—Rick Moody, author of The Long Accomplishment: A Memoir of Hope and Struggle in Matrimony
“Reading this terrific book makes you feel like you’re Deborah Copaken’s pal, and lucky that you’re getting to hang out. She lives life with gusto and resilience, appreciates her good luck, learns from her rotten luck, nails the villains along the way––and chronicles it all with breathtaking honesty and screwball good humor as she zigzags through middle age in the general direction of wisdom and contentment.”—Kurt Andersen, The New York Times bestselling author of Evil Geniuses and Fantasyland
“A fierce, caustic, joyful, and deeply courageous account of what it means to go through life in a female body, this book (like women ourselves) is so much greater than the sum of its parts, yet each part, and each page, is truly phenomenal.”—Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex
“The most laugh-out-loud story of resilience you’ll ever read, but also one that provides an
essential road map for the importance of narrative as a tool of healing: How we tell our stories is just as important—if not more so—as the plot twists we experience.”—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
“Utterly vital. Ladyparts enraged and amused me in equal measure. Deborah Copaken shows what it means to barely survive beyond the hallowed slice of privilege, where moving through the world in a woman’s body can be dangerous, absurd, frustrating, beautiful, and sometimes all at once.This book howls for women in a world that too often only allows us a whisper.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises and What We’ve Lost Is Nothing
“This book is a must-read for anyone who knows a woman, loves a woman, or is a woman.”—Katherine Schwarzenegger, New York Times bestselling author of The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable