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My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press; First Edition edition (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573442550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573442558
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Elliott's previous episodic novel, Happy Baby, was about a masochistic man, Theo, who was coming to terms with being an abused juvenile. The narrator of these 11 linked tales, usually called Theo, practices "consensual sadomasochism." Over the course of the book, he goes from being down and out in Amsterdam to eventual success as a West Coast writer whose "current friends went to Ivy League schools." In "Other Desires," Theo gets a black eye from Ambellina, who also smothers him by sitting on his face and puts a ball gag in his mouth while they watch Casablanca. In "I'll Love You Back," Theo's writes with the butt plug that girlfriend Eden has ordered him to wear firmly in place. Between Theo's granular descriptions of being hurt and the generic, robo-dom quality of the gals who hurt him (distinguished mostly by thickness of thigh and color of hair), the stories all tend to blur together in a sexual vacuum, with funny descriptions of Theo's improving quotidian in between—which is the point: torture, repetition and teasing are the focus of Theo's life and his work. As Theo explains in "Other Desires": "We've never had sex. We won't have sex." (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"An amazing and beautiful and powerful book.... I can't think of a more courageous writer than Stephen Elliott. At the center of these stories of his degradations is, I think, a rare kind of love. He is beaten until he weeps so that he can be held while he cries. But this book isn't all pathos and blood and sex -- it's also very funny. So Stephen Elliott can do it all -- he can freak you out and he can make you laugh. What more could you want from a writer?" -- Jonathan Ames, author of Wake Up, Sir!

"Stephen Elliott describes the sexual and emotional terrain in a voice that is at once feral and sweet, straightforward and complicated, devastating and funny as hell." -- San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Stephen Elliott knocks my fishnet stockings off." -- Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife

"There's an emotional courage to these stories, and a sense of urgency, that are thrilling to encounter. Elliott writes as if his life depended on each sentence." -- The Believer

"[A] profound, distilled work of art…drink it and be transformed." -- Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

"[Elliott is] a master of muted prose.... He conveys unmet yearning with a poignancy that is universal." -- San Francisco Chronicle

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on September 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stephen Elliott's girlfriend (using a rather loose definition of the term) does, in fact, come to the city and beat him up. The cover of this slim collection of stories conveys the contents quite effectively. It features pin-up sexy red-head in slick black vinyl with her high heel pointed menacingly at the reader.

As a reviewer, I am faced with the challenge of communicating how powerful Elliott's narrative is, without just cutting and pasting an entire short story right here. My personal proclivities do not include the S&M lifestyle, but Elliott was able take me inside the mind of a lost, painfully confused, desperate man seeking sexual release and affirmation via domination by beautiful, powerful women. The sexual escapades, Elliott has stated in interviews, are all true, and they are recounted in intense, fervent detail. Elliott seeks sex in Amsterdam, Berlin, and ultimately San Francisco. He strips for money, exchanges sex for money and drugs, engages in long-term relationships with a woman who has a husband and a slave on the side in addition to our author, has weekly appointments for domination, and again, and again, desperately seeks submission to the next level of pain and helplessness. Along the way, he gives the reader a glimpse of the sexual and emotional abuse from his childhood, but always in a straightforward manner with nary a trace of pity.

Elliott is not writing for shock value, but for truth and beauty in his quest for pleasure and love. Beauty, in this case, is bittersweet, but still poetic and sincerely moving. Trust me--the best introduction to Elliot is to dive in to the first chapter. You won't be able to put this story collection down, though, so buy his book before you try out the first chapter. I finished it in one evening.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. Bell on September 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stephen Elliot's My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up is a collection of ten highly autobiographical stories, mostly set in the S&M scene in San Francisco. Elliott writes in a compressed, minimalistic style that is simultaneously aggressive and inviting (not to mention erotic and thought-provoking), all the while weaving his stories into a loose narrative thread which moves from his earliest and most dangerously confused encounters through a decade of singles websites, dominating housewives, and relationships that often satisfy only temporarily if at all. The title story is one of the strongest in the collection, describing an afternoon spent with a girlfriend he met on an online dating service. As the girlfriend slaps him and blackens his eyes, she's forced to generate her anger by berating him over things that never happened, eventually saddening Elliot instead of turning him on:

"She was straddling me in her blue jeans when she said, "I'm not your father." She was still angry about something I had suggested, or that I had hurried her out of the bar and she hadn't finished her drink. It was all made up. A game. But I started to feel sad when she mentioned my father. I have such an awful relationship with my father. Aren't you supposed to forgive and forget stuff? I was thirteen when I left home. It's been seventeen years since he caught me and beat me and shaved my head and the state took custody and I became a ward of the court. We try to mend things but I get these letters from him and it's just too much. He thinks he's the victim. Like I have victimized him by making him out to be such a horrible father.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Journeyman on September 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It traces part of the author's growth from an abusive childhood to a happier adulthood. He allows us to see how his painful upbringing was reflected in series of painful and unhappy periods of sexual experimentation. The earlier chapters can be depressing, but hang on, because there is a trajectory toward a better present. I love this book for its honesty and authenticity. The last chapter is especially beautiful because it rings with a truth I have also seen: that bdsm can be healing. It makes sense that some people find bdsm within themselves not as something that needs to be cured but as a means of coping with and possibly resolving old wounds. Some of those experiences may be inaccessible to recall. The "healing" is counterintuitive and cathartic. In this context, bdsm can extend beyond bedroom kinks and thrills into the territory of personal growth and redemption. Mr. Elliott paints a spare and elegant portrait of such a process taken from his own life. Highly recommended.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on January 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Yep, I'd heard a lot about Stephen Elliot's My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up, and virtually all of it was so glowingly positive I bought it without a second thought. So now I've read it, and what do I think?


First off, great title! Truly great. Secondly, alas, it's also a bad book on which to hang that great title. In fact, although I know I'll take heat for saying this--boy oh boy I just know I will---this collection of pseudo-autobiographical short stories about the author's self-congratulatorily deviant sex life is barely readable. The stories here are unevenly laid out, way too egocentric, and they rapidly become tiring with their progression of one set of buttocks after another beaten in pursuit of erotic gratification. In fact I'll wager that if you were awestruck by these stories, then odds are you're probably under twenty-five and haven't been exposed to a lot of truly good writing in this particular field.

Page thirty-one: "She wanted to hit me across the back with a chain. But still, even as I'm missing her, and knowing that I will see her again, the question stays with me. The idea of two people finding each other. A person who wants to be hurt and another who wants to hurt someone. We've never had sex. We won't have sex. I've never seen her naked. I just don't understand where it comes from that someone could say such a thing."

Now imagine a couple hundred pages of this sort of prose and subject material and you'll see why I didn't think this short story collection was all it was hyped to be. I mean, come on, couldn't you write better than that? Couldn't most English majors you know?
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