Edan's Reviews > The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
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's review
Jul 10, 2007

did not like it
Read in June, 2005

I just found out Doris Lessing won the Nobel, and now I feel compelled to explain my one star review of her most famous book.

My gal pals and I read this over the course of a humid Iowa City summer, as part of a short lived and ill-conceived book club. We met once a week in a different apartment (though I can only imagine us at Kiki's place), to drink champagne and discuss the novel. Complain is really what we did--and then I went home with a champagne headache.

None of us liked this novel, and I believe only a couple of us finished it. The Golden Notebook moves at a glacial pace, and it's probably the only book that has ever truly depressed me. Usually I like depressing books! This one just made me feel sick for humanity and myself, and for this terrible sad narrator writing these notebooks. The only good part to talk about, of course, was the orgasm section: is it true that the man who really loves you can give you both a clitoral AND a vaginal orgasm? Kiki told us her mom's opinion, and we all leaned in, attentive. But really, this too is an outdated discussion--if my memory serves me correctly (and it doesn't always), in the book, her lover refuses to believe that the clitoral orgasm is a real orgasm, and only wants to give her the other kind. I think nowadays men and women are more accepting of all orgasms. Yea for the world and the progress we've made!

In the end, this book was a disappointment. My gal pals and I had more fun at the Iowa City Public Pool, which also was not fun.
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05/15/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

brian   yeah, the clitoral is definitely easier. also requires a level of creativity. with the vaginal -- and perhaps i reveal my own lack of sexual creativity in stating this -- there seems to be only so much one can do...

another question that immediately comes up upon hearing about lessing (i must disclose that i've never read a word...), is that politics definitely seems to play a part in this award, probably always has.

having only read orhan pamuk's SNOW (great first half, terribly dissapointing second half) and with the knowledge that he's still young and has much ahead of him... it seems obvious he was given the award for his (very ballsy and very cool) stance on the armenian genocide. (shit: wasn't i arguing earlier in the week that writing was no longer, and could no longer be 'dangerous'? yes, i was referring primarily to american writers, but pamuk kinda proves me wrong, no?) again with pinter: the man is a giant, but i gotta beleive he was handed the award at this particula time for his outward anti-bush anti-american stance... i can't imagine them handing it over to any white american male such as roth or mailer (particularly with reps as such mysognists) or to vargas llosa with his intense hatred of the south american leftist leaders, etc... i could throw out more examples, but y'get it... in short: lessing seems a safe bet.

any thoughts?

message 2: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edan Lessing also writes some science fiction, so that might be part of it too.

Orgasms, orgasms. I cannot discuss this on Goodreads.

message 3: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

Jason I'm not sure I want to discuss orgasms on Goodreads, but I am even less likely when we draw comparisons to thick fluids we ladle onto turkey. That is ruining both sex and Thanksgiving for me, in one fell swoop.

Or improving both. To find out, you'll have to find my blog.

message 4: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edan ha ha!

message 5: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

brian   that's my point: the nobel comittee swings notoriously to the left. i don't think the communist or socialist stuff is a problem for them... and the feminist stuff is a plus. point is: the past decade seems more politically impressive than anything. it's a common complaint, but c'mon: mccarthy, pynchon, delillo, roth, mailer, vargas llosa, murakami, oz...

again: i've never read lessing. so i haven't a leg to stand on in this argument.

message 6: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

brian   beastiality jokes. tips on stimulating the g spot. communists.

this thread is amazing.

message 7: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new)

brian   "P"? if you refer to what i think you refer... i think the whole thing is a P spot.

wouldn't the male equivalent more accurately be labeled the A-spot?

although... by that logic the g-spot would be the v-spot.

i'm confused.


message 8: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edan Wow, I go away to write for an hour and look where this thread goes!

Tracey, thanks for the education. I must say, however, that I know some women who are not satisfied with the g-spot activities, and they prefer the clitoral ones. I've talked to enough women (and I am one myself) to know that sexual satisfaction in the female race is multifarious indeed.

I wrote a story about doctors' hysteria services for women in the late 1800s. Women suffering from that affliction would go get fingered by the doctor--the orgasm would make them feel better. The vibrator was actually invented to make their job easier, for, as you might already know, manual pleasuring can take anywhere from 5 seconds to an hour. However, once the vibrator was invented, doctors realized women could self-service themselves. Fascinating, yes?

message 9: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edan G in g-spot is named after a gynecologist with a last name that starts with that letter.

In Iowa City, Patrick got his haircut at a salon called The G-spot. They said they called it that because the salon, placed unassumingly in a larger building, was hard to find.

Interestingly enough, Marshall, sometimes fiddling with the g-spot can make a woman feel like she's got to pee. This, however, is only an illusion.

message 10: by Tosh (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Tosh I'm feeling hot now and I am going to read "Golden Notebook." Nobel Prize winners are normally hot and sexy. Pinter - sexy, Faulkner - sexy, Sartre - sexy, and so forth. Yeah left-wing politics has a lot to deal with it - but really it's sexuality that makes the writer get the Nobel.

I want to be in an orgy with a lot of the nobel literature winners because you know that's going to be one sexy party.

message 11: by Edan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Edan No comment.

message 12: by Epee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Epee All orgasms are good orgasms. How weird not to believe in one sort or another.

Louise Dean Honest.

message 14: by Nick (new)

Nick Baam I think you underestimate the Iowa City Public Pool.

message 15: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle They have been reading this on BBC Radio.

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