Thursday, December 13, 2018

HEADCHEESE by Jess Hagemann

HEADCHEESE by Jess Hagemann

Published December 18th 2018

Published by Cinestate

(from the book description)

The day that Lorrie “accidentally” cuts off her little toe, she discovers what it’s like to be able-bodied and not want that body.

After Bartholomew loses his left arm to a Sunni sniper, he’s inspired to start a new kind of church―one where both amputation and sex are types of performance art.

Trice, a prosthetics engineer, receives the assignment of a lifetime when he’s asked to rebuild his son’s crippled frame.

Haunted by the memory of his dead wife, George must take the ultimate measure to excise her ghost. For good.

From sexual fetish to the clinical diagnosis of Body Integrity Identity Disorder, Headcheese makes the first cut, peeling back the epidermis to peer inside the minds and hearts of 26 people navigating the topography of flesh.

 I don't think I have ever had such trouble starting a review on a book. I finished HEADCHEESE by Jess Hagemann and then sat with it rolling around in my head for a few days as I thought about its message. This book did hit close to home for me. I am  amputee. I lost a leg to traumatic injury just over 18 years ago. The thought of someone wanting to voluntarily have a healthy limb removed just baffles me. I have been through multiple operations and therapies and would not wish it on anyone. Yet there are people in the world who do just that, and this book takes a look inside the life of these individuals.

The book deals with a very real mental illness called Body Integrity Identity Disorder. This disorder makes a person want to have a body part amputated because they feel it is not really a part of them. Like looking at your arm and feeling that it is just not right and wanting it gone. A person can go from trying to have it removed by a doctor to the more extreme cases of DIY at-home-amputations with electric saws and other devices.

HEADCHEESE is a very well written story that is part character narrative and part info dump from the author. Now, that term is not meant in a bad way, Jess Hagemann covers a lot of topics through the course of the book. Interwoven with the ongoing story, she adds story background, history lessons, news stories and more. The book jumps page to page with some pages only having 2 sentences on them, while others could be 3 pages of ongoing story. It didn't bother me, but some readers might find it off-putting. I found myself reading large chunks at a time and finishing the book in 2 days. The main story-line has an amazing 26 characters. Some are not given much attention at all, but the main few like Lorrie, Bartholomew, Trice and George carry the story along. The author has a great way of weaving the story elements together until everyone at some point has crossed paths with each other. The author does not hold back in her descriptions of amputations and other bloody events. I really enjoyed reading some of the informative tidbits and real life stories that are peppered every few pages.

There are also illustrations by Chris Panatier scattered throughout the book. Some are fairly tame while others are down right cringe worthy.

HEADCHEESE gives us a deep look inside the lives of a group of people dealing with Body Integrity Identity Disorder. At time it can be a terrifying display of raw body horror, made more disturbing by the fact that these are incidents that could be, and have taken place in the real world.

HEADCHEESE is definitely not a book for everyone and at times can be very difficult to read. Everyone is bound to take away something different from the story. Myself, being an amputee, found it very interesting that this could really be happening out there, even though the thought of it still upsetting to me deep down inside. In the end tho, I would recommend that you read this book. The story is intriguing, but the background information and thoughts from the author make this book shine even more.

This is one book that could spark some interesting debates between readers. Do we look at the sanctity of the human body and condemn people suffering from BIID for their actions, or is it a personal choice issue like sexual orientations and gender identity? This is an issue that really has not been addressed like some other disorders, but HEADCHEESE open the door to discussion. It's up to you, the reader, if you will step inside.

You can purchase HEADCHEESE on AMAZON.

You can find out more about the Publisher CINESTATE and all their other projects HERE.

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