Sarah Ditum

Sex in the City

The Bed Moved

By

J M Originals 139pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

The last story in Rebecca Schiff’s The Bed Moved has a hint of defensiveness about it. It’s called ‘Write What You Know’ and it begins, ‘I only know about parent death and sluttiness.’ Is that really all she knows? Seventeen of the twenty-three stories are written from the point of view of young, American, middle-class, female writer-types. Two are written third-person, one of which is archly called ‘Third Person’ and concerns a protagonist named Rebecca who has a lot of casual sex. Several have a teenage girl as narrator: one can readily imagine each of them growing up to be a young, American, middle-class, female writer-type. Rangy is not quite the word here.

This all suggests that Schiff is lacking in imagination. She isn’t. The best story here is ‘Rate Me’, a five-page dystopian tale where the narrator’s body parts are sent to a company for ‘rating’ and sent back, improved. ‘My vagina couldn’t break five’, she says balefully. ‘When I got my vagina back from them, rated, irradiated, they’d put it in a satin box with a note telling me that I was now eligible to dine with other top-rated members.’ Like Janet Frame at her bizarre best in ‘Solutions’ or ‘The Mythmaker’s Office’, an everyday truth  – here, that women are objectified, alienated from their bodies and then convinced to pay for their own mutilation – is refracted into visible form. It’s disturbing, knife-sharp and, most of all, funny.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,
    • Today is the first today of the – they've got some excellent events coming up over the next two weeks.… ,