Diary of a Teenage Girl; sexy and sexual

              Phoebe Gloeckner’s self-reverential novel entitled ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ claims to be “an account in words and pictures.” The word ‘account’ pertains more to a financial setting than an autobiographical one – perhaps then leading us to ask both what Minnie’s life (thus put forward within these pages) is “worth” and what the measure of that currency might be. The sexual urge is seen to be imitated through the act of writing as Minnie extends her world through the language she uses in order to make better sense both of it, and the attraction she feels for it. The central paradox of the text which is in part fact, and in part fiction – it exists in two ‘realms’ or ‘forms’ at once. Such an image of textual duality is enhanced by a comment Gloeckner makes at the conclusion of her preface to ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’: ‘I must tell you that it is “about” nothing. At the same time, it is “about” everything…It’s about pain and love. It’s about life. That’s all.’ Indeed, ‘Diary’ is brilliant at holding the individual and universal together in a single sentence, or voiced sentiment, as Minnie only concludes her story when she herself has known such ‘pain and love,’ ‘Signing off forever, dear Diary…’ As Sari Globerman writes in Bust magazine, ‘With Diary, Gloeckner has essentially created her own medium,” when we consider the synergy of her drawings and comic scripts with large narrative chunks they seem to both feed into and extend each other, rather than either form being a limiting presence for the other.

Early on in her ‘Diary’ Minnie complains ‘What is there to understand? I am a very passionate person,’ meaning this, in what we discover will become, both a sexual and emotional context. Minnie makes clear here the distinction between being intelligible and being understood. The ‘diary’ form as something inherently private and personal facilitates Minnie being honest on an unusual level for fiction, as she can simply type the word ‘cock’ out thirteen times, later adding “The bbbbbbboy was like a mmmmmman…Sometimes the beauty of a boy makes me want to cry.” Words become inadequate for Minnie to express the intensity of the desire she feels for sexual gratification, where the repetition of the ‘b’ in ‘boy’ and ‘m’ in ‘man’ suggesting a loss of control which gives rise to this flood of emotion as she is overwhelmed by her passions. The sexual urge is seen as an inherent one for teenagers where their desire to explore their own sexuality becomes more urgent than the want for sex itself.

© 2020 by AMBER SIDNEY-WOOLLETT