Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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“Henry and June”, Anais Nin

August 12th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Literature, Over-Rated

ninSynopsis: Married woman meets famous writer and falls in love. Then falls in love with writer’s wife. Then falls in love with cousin. Then her psychoanalysis. Then diarises sexual awakening.

My Take: Yes, I admit have particular preferences when it comes to my reading habits. I read more than my share of modern Asian fiction, Kennedy biographies and blokey Australian literature. However, I do consciously try to read outside of my comfort zone on a fairly regular basis. I figure even if it’s not to my tastes, at least I’m broadening my horizons (and have one more topic that I can bullshit my way through a conversation about).

Enter Anais Nin. I remember shortly after reading Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” thinking that I really didn’t read many female writers and that I should make more of an effort to challenge my ignorant and patriarchal biases. So I figured I’d dive into the deep end with some of the chickyist femo-lit around – Anais Nin’s semi-infamous diaries of sexual awakening and literary exploration in 1930s Paris with Henry and June Miller.

I promise that I did come to this with an open mind. I was looking for enrichment and broadening of horizons. Unfortunately, what I found was a bit of a mess. Nin is a poetic and whimsical writer, but even in the edited version I read, the internal monologue got tiring pretty quickly. Nin’s frank writing about her sexual awakening and liberation might have been enough to carry the book in an earlier time, but I wonder about its relevance today. I suppose that I should give Nin a leave pass on this one given that she never intended the diaries to be published, but even disregarding the lack of narrative framing for an external audience, there wasn’t much in the diaries that made me think that I would enjoy Nin’s writing/perspectives/insights in a fictional context.

Highlight: I would include a highlight, but a lot of it is NSFW so I think I’ll take the path of discretion…


  • She was able to make father rooting boring? Or am I thinking of another work of hers? Can’t remember if I’ve read this one or not.