... at times so electrically intense that it’s hard to read on ... But between the passages that edge towards poetry there is some less beguiling prose. Arthur talks about a 'structure of identity' and 'patriarchal blueprint' ... which can make him sound more like a lecturer in cultural studies than a New York businessman born at around the time Queen Victoria died ... It’s a bold act of imaginative empathy, but you’d expect an award-winning playwright to be better at catching a voice. Perhaps she is too close to it ... The Apology is an incredibly brave attempt to make sense of what seems senseless. It’s a powerful and sometimes devastating anatomisation of harm. As an attempt at an explanation, it seems plausible, but Ensler’s view, articulated here by her father, that the 'structure' of male identity is 'predicated on the need to destroy', can give it the ring of sociological theory, rather than truth ... This chilling book reads like a work of catharsis. But catharsis isn’t quite the same as art.
... a controversial approach to healing, and the author is unaware. The Apology is valuable for what it shows about causes and effects of abuse. But its method and motivation raise questions ... It is unclear why it is personally liberating for the abused to tell such a story, so long after the fact, as if it is the father’s story, when in fact it is not ... There is no explanation of why the author assumes such an approach to personal healing. There is no defense of the approach against rival approaches ... This means the approach is taken to be self-evident. And this may be the most interesting feature of this book: its demonstration of the force of an expectation, rejected in theory by many feminists, about freedom as the control of a story about oneself: invented to conform to one’s own expectations ... shows how easily a controversial story about healing is assumed by some who care about those most undermined by that very story about human freedom: the vulnerable and abused.
... a chilling portrait ... Fully amplifying her father’s warped perceptions, the author provides an exacting, revealing glimpse into the psychology of gaslighting from the view of a perpetrator. Ensler effectively unearths tragic betrayals of trust and the multiple terrors survived by her younger self ... a fevered account that traces periods of resistance, rebellion, self-destruction, creativity, and sobriety ... Ensler’s father is certain to frustrate readers looking for a more concrete sense of justice, and the graphic catalogue of sexual abuses and physical violence will challenge most readers and trigger some. Still, this is a potent, necessary narrative of healing, and the author succeeds in her 'attempt to endow my father with the will and the words to cross the border, and speak the language, of apology so that I can finally be free.' This imagined voice is as intimate as it is alarming, and Ensler also taps into a broader struggle, seeking to hold all perpetrators of abuse accountable for their actions ... Readers searching for full and consistent contrition may be uncomfortable, but those seeking a greater understanding of psychological manipulation will appreciate this powerful examination.