Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary; Lydia Lunch

Written by Emily Westerweller

When I was in college, I glanced at my roommate’s diary that was sitting open on the coffee table (shameful, I know). I was shocked by what I read. This was not the same girl I had first met at orientation a couple of weeks ago, was it? The girl with thick square-rimmed glasses and Midwestern parents? How could she be writing in such detail about sex? As the weeks turned into months, the walls in our apartment started to seem thinner. She became more like the girl in the diary every day. It was not that I minded as much as I was surprised. If I read that diary entry later in the semester, I would not have even batted an eye.

Unlike my roommate, who was born in the Midwest, Lydia Lunch was born in Rochester, NY. Although I have never seen pictures of her sporting glasses, I have to admit that when reading Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary, I had that same feeling I had when reading my roommate’s journal. To come into a personal account like this, with no previous warning, is, to say the least, shocking and jarring. If you are familiar, however, with Lunch’s spoken word, films, and writing, then you probably expect her diary to be full of sex, drinking, drugs, and violence. You won’t be too shocked when she comes home to find that her boyfriend has killed all of her pets (including skinning a cat) except for the snake; or by the graphic details of her sexual conquests; or by her stories of turning tricks (one turns out to be a cannibal known as “Ill Will,” who committed a murder in the same New York hotel he took Lydia to). When reading her diary, you realize that her body is her power and she uses it for anything from finding a place to live to deflowering young boys. She is a self-admitted sexual predator, but maybe because she is aware of her own vanity, she knows when to stop and has a soft spot for her “victims.”

The book opens with the explanation of why she is the way she is: “So twisted by men, a man, my father, that I became like one." She flees from her abusive father to New York City, followed by stints in places like California, New Orleans, and London. My advice for reading this book is to take it slow and think of it like you are entering a relationship with Lydia. Get to know one of her poems, listen to a song, and if you like what you see and are ready to take that next step, you will learn everything you want to know and maybe even a little more from Paradoxia. It is hard to say what is fact or fiction, but it really doesn’t matter. Thurston Moore says in the afterword that Lunch “loves a good ending.” Now you, the reader, just has to decide if you are ready for the beginning.

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