Steinke writes enjoyably scathing accounts of various more recent books — some by women — that have a narrative arc of “menopausal disorientation followed by hormone-therapy salvation”. It’s the tone that is so aggravating, she concludes. They are in thrall to “moist, compliant femininity . . . This is a fiercely intelligent trawl through menopausal waters that is not afraid to confront the intricacies of the female body and mind. There is a beautiful precision to the writing, and the chapter about a killer whale called Lolita, kept captive in a small tank, is particularly moving.
...I found myself oddly compelled by this weird, infuriating, uncategorisable book (it sells itself as memoir, but thanks to its fragmentary style and abundant use of quotations, what it most resembles is a commonplace book). I enjoyed arguing with it – and, no, such pugnaciousness has nothing to do with my age, which is 49. I long to read something that deeply examines the vicissitudes, mental and physical, that accompany this stage of my life – and yet so few writers hit the mark... I will say it again: Flash Count Diary is a book you want to argue with and herein lies both its weakness and its strength. It moved me, if not to bright, ascendant rage, then certainly to exasperation. But talk back to it and you may feel (I hope this doesn’t count as inspirational guff) emboldened: more powerful and even, perhaps, more beautiful.