Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Just Read: Working Stiff by Grant Stoddard

I've hit another "I don't want to read fiction" patch, and just spent about half an hour poking through my bookshelves looking for something to read next. (Not good enough but close: New Grub Street by George Gissing and Shadows of Blue & Gray by Ambrose Bierce.) The feeling was even worse Sunday night, so I chose something very frivolous to read.

This thing, in fact: Working Stiff by Grant Stoddard.

I picked it up as a bound galley from a giveaway shelf at work (and which is going back to that same shelf tomorrow). Stoddard was a young Englishman in 1998 (he's thus only a slightly older one now) when he moved to New York to be with his then-girlfriend and decided he wanted to stay here. He doesn't seem to have had much in the way of skills or aptitude (or desire, or motivation) for anything in particular, and eventually drifted into being a sex guinea pig columnist for Nerve.

There's a fair bit of deviant sex in the middle of the book, but the beginning is the usual "my life and hard times" crap, in which Stoddard explains who he is and how he got there (in a manner that made this reader just wish he'd get to the smutty stuff or at least do anything interesting and non-cliched). The sex stuff trails off near the end, too, as Stoddard tries to assess The Meaning of His Life.

So, yes, it is the standard sex worker memoir, only from the point of view of a guy who wrote a on-line column for three years, instead of being a dominatrix or porn star or something more obviously sex-worker-ish. It's only mildly lame, but I wish I'd been in a mood to read something more substantial two days ago. (Once I start a book for pleasure, I pretty much always finish it; I have managed to develop strategies to partially read books for work, but they don't really apply to something I'm reading ostensibly for my own enjoyment.)

And it is a memoir, not a collection of columns or anything else; I gather the actual sex stories are more detailed in the Nerve columns (which seem to all still be available online for free, unlike the book, which costs money and is only available on that old-fashioned paper stuff), but I haven't followed them. So only read this if you want the true story of one English lad's sexual awakening in (very) downtown Gotham.

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