Periel Aschenbrand's the only bush i trust is my own
I knew I was going to like this book. A hot, naked woman holding a shiny and sinful apple on the cover, the words The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own and Periel Aschenbrand covering her most interesting places. The message was clear, and I was tempted. Judging a book by its cover? Yeah, well, maybe.
Upon reading the first few pages, though, I knew my instincts had been correct. The book begins with a retelling of a conversation between Aschenbrand and her mother. You need not be a woman, holding an advanced degree but working a menial job, Jewish, or a virgin to relate to this conversation. The tone here sets the stage for the rest of the book, which is just as intelligently and articulately written. To be amused, heart swelled, and informed with every turn of the page is refreshing. If you’re overly sensitive, squeamish, or simply allergic to truth and humor, though, don’t even bother opening this book. You’ll be brought to tears or will go into anaphylactic shock within the first thirty pages.
Is it designed to shock or upset you? Possibly, depending on who you are. Throughout the book it could be argued Ashchenbrand is trying to push the boundaries of sensitive issues such as religion, sexuality, politics, and others. However, it could also be argued that Aschenbrand is preaching to the choir. The bulk of her audience is likely of the liberal-minded ilk. The only one she seems to be shocking is her mother, and while this may be reason enough for many daughters to behave in a certain way, it doesn’t seem Aschenbrand’s style. Shock’s probably not the point of this book. Aschenbrand’s vignette about going with Kat to her Mormon church is an example. After listening to several people give testimonies about their faith, Aschenbrand describes Mormonism as a cult on the lookout for more souls to indoctrinate. She describes these religites as “self indulgent” and “need[ing] therapy, not church.” Interestingly, by the end of the book Aschenbrand is trying to convince Kat to surrender her “garments” (the Mormon equivalent of the chastity belt)…and then laments the fact that these cotton underclothes aren’t in camouflage.
Clearly humor is used throughout the book to express heightened emotions and viewpoints, underscore irony, and to just amuse. Check out Aschenbrand’s conversation with her mother about her hemorrhoid problem, an unexpected result of having anal sex, or her discussion with a big chain bookstore employee over why the book History of Shit is not on the shelves. Indulge me here. This is hilarious:
Ariel: Do you have any other books?
Any other books?
Any other books on shit?
Stan: I don’t know, it’s not really my area of expertise.
Ariel: Well, Stan, it’s not really my fucking area of expertise either, which is why I’m trying to find a fucking book about it. Is A Carbohydrate Addict’s Guide to fucking Eating your area of expertise? You knew where that book was. This is a big problem. This is a big fucking problem, Stan. You don’t have the fucking book because not enough people are buying the book, and not enough people are buying the book because no one is allowed to talk about shit without everyone having a fucking nervous breakdown.
Now that’s classy. She’s funny and making a point…and everyone can get the joke and the point, which is not in itself funny. I dig that.
And even in the midst of her political rants, feminist proclamations, religious rightousness, etc. she embraces the irony that surrounds her. She allows the mobsters at Barrones to call her “dollface” and even gets upset when they refer to someone else by her name. This type of irony is woven throughout the vignettes in this book, and they’re important to note—as important as the more in-your-face statement.
The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own is a well written and organized book, one that is wonderfully obscene, powerfully feministic and feminine, and a whole lot of fun. Buy it for the cover but keep it around for the contents.
Go to www.bodyasbuildboard.com for more about Aschenbrand, this book, and other projects.
Aschenbrand, Periel, The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own , copyright 2005, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. 197 pages, ISBN 1-58542-420-K, $9.95
Laura A. Lionello
Laura A. Lionello now lives in her hometown of Chicago, but she strangely misses Santa Monica. Actually, she missed you. Her poetry has been published in A Galaxy of Verse, Anthology, Celebration, Matrix (Germany), everything about you is beautiful, green room confessionals, Penumbra, Portland Review, The Blue House, Threshold, and others. In addition to being the poetry editor for poeticdiversity, Laura is a freelance writer and editor for a series of publishers and individuals.