The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home by S. L. Wisenberg
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Even as a fourth-generation Jewish Texan, S. L. Wisenberg has always felt the ghost of Europe dogging her steps, making her feel uneasy in her body and in the world. At age six, she’s sure that she hears Nazis at her bedroom window and knows that after they take her away, she’ll die without her asthma meds. In her late twenties, she infiltrates sorority rush at her alma mater, curious about whether she’ll get a bid now. Later in life, she makes her first and only trip to the mikvah while healing from a breast biopsy (benign this time), prompting an exploration of misogyny, shame, and woman-fear in rabbinical tradition.
With wit, verve, blood, scars, and a solid dose of self-deprecation, Wisenberg wanders across the expanse of continents and combs through history books and family records in her search for home and meaning. Her travels take her from Selma, Alabama, where her Eastern European Jewish ancestors once settled, to Vienna, where she tours Freud’s home and figures out what women really want, and she visits Auschwitz, which—disappointingly—leaves no emotional mark.
Year first published: 2023