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Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood

Devil in the Details Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood When her father found the washing machine crammed with everything from her sneakers to her barrettes year old Jennifer Traig had a simple explanation They d been tainted by the pork fumes emanatin

  • Title: Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood
  • Author: Jennifer Traig
  • ISBN: 9781565118980
  • Page: 126
  • Format: Audio CD
  • When her father found the washing machine crammed with everything from her sneakers to her barrettes, 12 year old Jennifer Traig had a simple explanation They d been tainted by the pork fumes emanating from the kitchen and had to be cleansed The same fumes compelled Jennifer to wash her hands for 30 minutes before dinner Jennifer s childhood mania was the result of herWhen her father found the washing machine crammed with everything from her sneakers to her barrettes, 12 year old Jennifer Traig had a simple explanation They d been tainted by the pork fumes emanating from the kitchen and had to be cleansed The same fumes compelled Jennifer to wash her hands for 30 minutes before dinner Jennifer s childhood mania was the result of her then undiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder joining forces with her Hebrew studies While preparing for her bat mitzvah, she was introduced to an entire set of arcane laws and quickly made it her mission to follow them perfectly Her parents nipped her religious obsession in the bud early on, but as her teen years went by, her natural tendency toward the extreme led her down different paths of adolescent agony and mortification.Years later, Jennifer remembers these scenes with candor and humor What emerges is a portrait of a well meaning girl and her good natured parents, and a very funny, very sharp look back at growing up.

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      126 Jennifer Traig
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      Posted by:Jennifer Traig
      Published :2019-09-10T05:49:44+00:00

    About "Jennifer Traig"

    1. Jennifer Traig

      Jennifer Traig is a frequent contributor to McSweeney s and The Forward She is the author of a series of young adult books and a humor book, JUDAIKITSCH She has a Ph.D in literature and lives in San Francisco.

    641 Comments

    1. I’m not sure how I feel about this book, even still. I was intrigued when I first heard of it a few years ago, very interested to read a true life story about the struggles with OCD. And the fact that the author wrote with a clear view of her past and much humor made it all the more fascinating. If only the book had held up to that reputation.The writing is good, the story intriguing. But the author’s particular type of OCD is a religious compulsion and her heritage is Jewish, so the stories [...]


    2. It'sokay. Once you get past how weird little Jenny was, praying six hours a day with a kleenex on her head and making imaginary cosmetics from her own spit, you kind of get over it. Basically, this is Jenny's "comic" memoir of how it was going through high school with Scrupulosity, a form of OCD that centers around religious obsession. This fun mental illness cocktail included everything from sterilizing things that were "impure" to overzealously separating everything (not just dairy and meat), [...]


    3. This book was awesome. It's a memoir by Traig on her childhood with obsessive compulsive disorder. This childhood took place in 1980s California, before obsessive compulsive disorder was known and recognized as a disorder. Although some of Traig's experiences are humorous to those of us reading the story, I can't imagine how difficult this disorder was for her. She is born to a Catholic mother and Jewish father, and converts to Judaism. The strict rules for living as set out in the Torah send he [...]


    4. It was slightly jarring to see so much of myself in the main character. I mean I don't have OCD or anything but I have a sympathy with her need to do those things. I don't have the compulsion but I do think about every shadow that passes my path as I'm driving and I do obsess about Salmonilla (which I still contend is totally reasonable to obsess over) and I do try to avoid stepping on tiles that are next to eachother in favor of those that are diagonal. I did make Delta stop a plane and turn it [...]


    5. Jennifer Traig's childhood obsessive-compulsive religiosity makes for an entertaining read, but it's clear from the start that she doesn't think about (or present) it in a linear way. About 2/3 of the way in, I started wondering, "Didn't she already mention this?" Closer to the end, I found myself wishing that she had employed a more ruthless editor, too -- because many of the details she chose to include about her high school years seemed not only redundant, but rather dull.Still, I have a hank [...]


    6. I did not make it through the first chapter. I feel kind of embarrassed FOR this author. This book seems forced and inauthentic to me. I felt no connection to Jennifer Traig. I think it is important, at times, to keep the topics of mental illness light and humorous; but I feel like she goes overboard with it. I did not find her writing to be funny at all. Maybe I'm apathetic towards some of these authors who try to profit off of their mental illness now, I don't know. I have my own quirks and me [...]


    7. For those who don’t know me well enough, I suffer from mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (though I suppose mild is a relative term), which is why I picked up this book. This memoir describes Traig’s life growing up with a severe form of OCD called Scrupulosity where fanatic religious observance intersects with typical OCD fanatic observance of routine, resulting in (for Traig) situations like one instance where Traig put literally everything she owned in the washer on the remotest cha [...]


    8. I did not enjoy this book AT ALL; I felt compelled to finish it just so I could say I did.When I started "Devil in the Details," it was with the expectation that it would be about Jennifer Traig's struggle with OCD, maybe with a funny lean to it since she is known in the McSweeney's circuit. I was NOT expecting to learn alllll about Jewish law. Traig's OCD tendencies lean toward scrupulosity (which, for her, involves keeping Jewish laws, including some very obscure ones), which was new to me, so [...]


    9. i read this book essentially in one sitting: parked on the beach in a perfectly charming end-of-vacation/i'm-unemployed-and-have-no-idea-what-i'm-doing-with-my-life funk. at first, i had no patience for what seemed the usual sob-story of the trials of the adolescent middle-class white American female-- perfectionism and eating disorders and temper-tamtrums rolled into a neat clinical acronym, a protagnist whom we're supposed to pity and shake our heads over, grateful we are not she. but then i d [...]


    10. Devil in the Details is subtitled “Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood,” and rightly so. Traig suffered from scrupulosity, one of the Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders defined by a religious compulsion to do various things. She also has full-blown OCD, although in this book, it mainly manifests itself through her scrupulous behavior. Traig’s story is very interesting especially for those of us - like myself - who have OCD tendencies and/or spectrum disorders. I am always fascinated by [...]




    11. 3.5 starsVery interesting and educational memoir. A few minor things that didn't sit well with me. Full review soon!


    12. From my review:Traig writes well and had only one literary tendency that annoyed me (her overuse of "Oh, sure "). She kept me laughing, but towards the end of the book I became restless, wanting more:-Some of the themes become repetitive towards the end; her writing could have been "tighter" in the closing essays- She treats her adolescent self as a carnival freak, something to be laughed at, and invites her readers to do the same. But she is not a freak; she is a person. As a reader, I wanted [...]



    13. Incredibly repetitive. I can't tell if the cringe humor is actually cringe humor or just really poorly executed humor. Parts of this were hilarious and interesting, but 90% of this book was a chore to get through. I liked the look into what it's like to live with OCD, definitely a perspective changer. The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying.


    14. Humor, I've been told, is something of a cure-all for emotional and mental traumas. Like a homemade tonic sold at a sideshow, people claim it can "cure whatever ails you," whether what ails you is male pattern baldness, an especially persistent boil, or something far more serious. It is true that making light of the depressing, the embarrassing, and the far too real to deal with can liberate a person from their problems. Cracking wise about your OCD, for example, can deflate it, and take its pow [...]


    15. In this book, Jennifer writes about her experiences growing up with scrupulosity, a hyper-religious form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. She first develops the condition around age twelve, when she is studying for her bat mitzvah. "Halachah and latent OCD make a wonderful cocktail, and I was intoxicated. Suddenly I wasn't just washing; I was purifying myself of sin. I wasn't just patting things; I was laying on hands. Now my rituals were exactly that: rituals. And my gosh, it was fun. The endl [...]


    16. I really enjoyed this. It was similar to "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" in some ways, but much better -- tighter and crisper, funnier. I loved how she took what could have been a depressing, morbid topic and made it enjoyable to read about (at least for me, Marg). Despite, or perhaps because of, the humorous tone throughout, I found a rare serious moment where she described some of the painful social aspects of the disorder extremely poignant and moving. I also think that you don't [...]


    17. This memoir is filled with a lot of humor, which I appreciated, but it caused me to be skeptical as well -- is the author exaggerating her symptoms for a laugh, and if so, which ones? (It caught me by surprise, for instance, when she waited until the final chapter to mention that she had been eating her meals with bags on her hands.)Also, the conclusion is that her OCD was caused by living with her family? Maybe? I'm not sure? But that's how I interpreted it? Let me add another question mark? Wh [...]


    18. This book is about Traig's childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder. I didn't it as much as her later book about hypochondria. However, some of it was pretty funny, such as her description of the time she turned orange from eating only melons and carrots. Also, here is her discussion of the disgusting eating habits of saints:". . . told in tales that are not so much hagiography as gagiography . . . Saint Angela of Foligno liked to wash lepers and drink the run-off, growing ecstatic when the bathw [...]


    19. The book took off at a sprint but lost steam about three quarters of the way through. Perhaps a testiment that those who suffer more than the "normal, average" person builds up rather snarky, sarcastic approaches to life and people in it, whereas when one becomes another clone of the population, these quirks melt away into dullness. Not to say that author did not have a wonder way of making light of her condition, which is no laughing matter at all. It's also reassuring to see that with enough t [...]


    20. Make no mistake, this is certainly an interesting and engaging book. I find it so freeing for these narratives to finally be told. That said, I was hoping for more. While Traig captures the pain and the good times, I was hoping for more emotional depth. She talks very little about her recovery, instead portraying it as a thing that just happened, which is the part I was looking forward to most. The other thing that brings this book down for me is a flippant and dismissive attitude towards seriou [...]


    21. The illness is serious but oh, this book is funny! In short vignettes, the author recounts her girlhood in a family of mixed and open religious heritage and practice against a backdrop of her own emergent anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder that results in Jewish Scrupulosity. What could be a book full of woe and self-pity is instead a hilarious, clever, self-aware, lively tale of a girl struggling to control something about her free-form life. With such clever, humorous writing, it was e [...]


    22. I can't believe that I laughed so much while reading a book about a person with two mental illnesses. I read this during a long layover at an airport, the perfect place to be seen laughing alone. I gave this to my sister to read, she is the quirkiest person I know, she will probably find the author to be sympatico.


    23. Insightful and hysterical Traig chronicles not only what it was like to be OCD as a teenager, but adolescent American life in the '70s and '80s, growing up in an interfaith family. I don't normally laugh out loud when I read, but I'm sure co-workers were looking at me funny as I was giggling through my lunch breaks this week.highly recommend.


    24. Love it. Really funny personal look at a young girls struggle with OCD and finding where she fits into her religion. Very funny!


    25. If you think you have probs, guess what! You don't. The brain is a formidable opponent when it's not working in your favour. Wow. #eyeopener



    26. A must-read for anyone acquainted with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anyone who dearly loves to laugh (that's you, Elisha).


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