Book Review: Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes


Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes
Anne Elizabeth Moore
Curbside Splendor Publishing | 2017 | 300 pages | 978-1940430881
Reviewed by Mayan Darbyshire



From the moment this book came into my possession, served to me upon some rather stern-looking grape leaves, I could feel an immediate importance. A chilling heat to ruin the language a bit, like a slurpee in the winter – oddly satisfying despite the occasional glare – and I must say I had quite a bit of fun with it. It was an exercise in enlightenment and integrity. In Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, award-winning journalist Anne Elizabeth Moore uses well-woven analytics, seamless humor, and eye-opening research to put on display the wonky edges and deep cracks of the contemporary capitalist system and its harsh toll on women.

On a structural level, this book succeeds inside and out. There is a pervasive logic to the arrangement of the essays, starting strong with research of the Cambodian garment industry, spiced with just enough personal experience and point of view to smoothly transition to Anne’s personal story of disease and disability. From this point the reader knows the author well enough that the later analysis of movie trends, patents, misogyny and linguistic erasure feel less cold and condescending than they do grimly empathetic. Body Horror highlights the beauty and necessity of strong points of view, bucking the trend of dimension through variety, and allowing for a singular, sharply more visceral style of storytelling.

We get nothing short of a powerful look into the inkwell as Anne Elizabeth Moore attempts to make us laugh in the face of horror – a sort of gallows’ waiting room humor that is spread throughout the pages with expert timing. She brings both humor of voice and circumstance, allowing the absurdity of our reality and capitalism to create the laughs for her.

I must say I did argue with this book – not much back and forth, but I do wait for its reply – and it took me by surprise, pulling me from the punchdrunk haze these modern times have given us and into a surprising, if not unfortunately fleeting, moment of health. Who knew reading about recovering from a perceived death sentence could bring me such stamina? Who knew the Cambodian garment industry and the straight-spined fashion industry were so similar? Body Horror is a great read for those who wish to learn empathy from a master.

Mayan Henry Darbyshire is a writer, reviewer and essayist. He was born in London, and subsequently raised in Sydney, where, by way of his parents, his artistic and aesthetic influences took hold. However, Mayan then moved to the US at the age of 9 in search of a less turbulent upbringing. He specialises in literary fiction, surrealism, and horror writing and currently attends Columbia College Chicago, pursuing a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Journalism.

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