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 writers
Deborah Copaken is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including Shutterbabe, The Red Book, and Between Here and April, among others. A contributing writer at The Atlantic, 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, The Financial Times, Observer, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Slate, O, the Oprah Magazine, and Paris Match, among others. Her column “When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist” was adapted for the Modern Love streaming series. Her seventh book, Ladyparts, a memoir of bodily destruction and resurrection during marital rupture, will be published by Random House on August 3, 2021. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
photo credit: Winky Lewis
A native of Farmington, Maine, Desi Van Til studied English Literature at Princeton, and enjoyed a food and film-centric post-graduate year in Paris before moving to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. She associate produced the romantic comedy 13 Going on 30, and the short film Last Night based on the James Salter short story. She returned to Maine to produce her screenplay Tumbledown as a feature film, and continues to work as a screenwriter in Portland where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Sean Mewshaw, and their two children. She is currently working on her first play.