...steadily calm, clear-eyed, and brutal ... the narrative moves back and forth in time, but the author is always purposeful with her graphic details; each moment is worth recounting in a review ... The Incest Diary bears many similarities to other narratives about incest—the secrecy, the shame, the specificity of the psychological and social repercussions—but the author's relentless focus on the incest and its aftermath distances The Incest Diary from other works. Incest is often a theme, an underlying motivation or explanation, but it is rarely the point ... early reactions to the book have been disappointingly conservative, emphasizing the potential scandal or harm it could cause...these concessions betray the author's effort to honestly examine what happened to her—and has happened to many people—in favor of decency or covering one's bases. They make it clear that few people know how to talk about incest—as well as why a book like this is so necessary.
The author sugarcoats nothing about her ordeal and the damage done. But her memoir seeks to evoke, in a way few before it have, the transgressive rush some might find in taboo sexual behavior ... This is a book about heat rather than coolness. It is about incandescent libido and the charring that is a result. Among the many disturbing things about The Incest Diary is a sense that the author is working to turn the reader on, too ... The prose in The Incest Diary is clear and urgent. This is not a major book but it has genuine intensities of thought and feeling. I was never happy to be reading it. You may feel that your face is being rubbed too repeatedly in a certain kind of mud ... This book offers more sensation than perspective. The author’s scalded and mixed emotions are best summarized by these two sentences: 'I want him to think that I’m sexy. And I want to savagely mutilate his body and feed his corpse to dogs.'”
Lolita is a book that appears to be about seduction but is really about rape. The Incest Diary presents itself as the inverse, a book apparently about rape but really about seduction. But this conceit betrays the further truth — call it the secret under the secret under the secret — that sometimes rape and seduction, coercion and desire, are not opposed at all … There has lately been a cultural turn toward believing, as a matter of decent politics, the purported victims of rape and sexual abuse. The Incest Diary shows us, horrifyingly, why that matters … It is hard to assess The Incest Diary as a literary object. For all its elegance, its moments of chilly beauty, the book never allows one to fully divorce it, as a piece of writing, from its devastating occasion — much less to entertain the thought that the abuse might be somehow redeemed through its writing. It is far easier to say, or should be, that the book is a significant feminist text.