I read the ones by men instead, until I was like, “I cannot read another passage about masturbation. I can’t.” It was like a pile of Kleenex. I read Portnoy’s Complaint. I read Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, when it came out. I read, I don’t even remember — but I read like five male coming-of-age novels that had intense, long passages about masturbation. These books taught me a lot about what it must be like to be a young man, and gave me some terrible ideas about the kind of woman I didn’t want to be, in order to not be thought dull or needy by the intelligent, masturbating young men I liked, but they did not help me understand my life. Except for The Bell Jar I didn’t have a book that gave me an archetype, of a young, educated, sexually curious, neurotic but adventurous heterosexual female who was not trying to overcome sexual trauma.
The Cut published an excerpt from No Regrets, a collection of conversations between women edited by Dayna Tortorici, who calls the book "a book of women talking about the processes of becoming themselves." The excellent "pile of Kleenex" line and the ensuing thoughts above are from the writer Emily Witt; read the rest here.