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Sarah: A Novel Paperback – June 9, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Who would have thought that there were so many truckstop devotees of cross-dressing children in West Virginia? In this disturbing debut novel by 19-year-old LeRoy, they appear to be everywhere. The narrator, a 12-year-old boy, has renamed himself Sarah after his whorish mother because he has learned from her example that "Most anything you want in this world is easier when you're a pretty girl." Following in her footsteps, he plies his trade at the Doves, a truckstop/gourmet restaurant run by Glad, a despotic pimp with a heart of gold. When his mother rejects him, Sarah runs away from the Doves and finds his way to the hellish Three Crutches, a rival truckstop run by the evil Le Loup. Taken for a girl, and then advertised as Saint Sarah in a money-making ploy by Le Loup, Sarah is expected to bless truckers and then walk on water. Will these experiences convince Sarah to resume the life of a full-time boy? And will he discover that there's no place like home? Sometimes Sarah's masochistic attention-getting strategies and desperate need to be loved are genuinely moving, but the freak-show world LeRoy conjures up never quite gels. In the self-consciously bizarre gallery of misfits and fetishes he assembles, potentially resonant themes like the interchangeability of saints and whores are obscured, and the novel remains but a curiosity. (Apr.) FYI: LeRoy has edited several anthologies under the pseudonym Terminator.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Scary, sad, and way, way out there, Leroys picaresque debut novel follows a young boy through southern truckstops, where lot lizards turn tricks for drivers whose tastes run from women to transvestites to boys in jeans. Sarah is actually the name of our heros mother, and in the beginning they both work for Glad, a fairly nice pimp who treats his whores decently and serves them up to a not-too-rough clientele. But when the boy appropriates his mothers name and gender (at least in appearance) to go wandering, he winds up in the clutches of a really bad guy named Le Loup. The gory details of how Sarah is abused by this monster and his cohorts will come as no surprise to those familiar with Leroys journalistic pieces (in Spin, Nerve, New York Press) under the pseudonym Terminator, some of which dealt with his own experiences. Its disturbing to encounter a 20-year-old who knows this much about lifes seamy side, but Leroy depicts his damaged, degraded characters with considerable tenderness. Not exactly a laugh riot, but not as unrelievedly sordid as a plot synopsis might suggest. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (June 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158234146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582341460
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LAURA ALBERT (lauraalbert.org) won international acclaim for her best-selling novels "Sarah," "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," and "Harold's End," written as JT LeRoy. Her speaking engagements include NPR's story-telling series The Moth, Radiolab, Foyles in London, and Brazil's international Book Bienal, where Laura and Alice Walker were the 2012 U.S. representatives. Laura was a writer for the HBO series "Deadwood" and wrote the original screenplay of Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," winner of the 2003 Palme d'Or at Cannes. She was also Associate Producer of both "Elephant" and Asia Argento's film of "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things." Laura has served as a juror for the Brasilia, Sapporo, and A SHADED VIEW ON FASHION FILM festivals. Writer of the film "Dreams of Levitation" for Nowness, Laura has also written for The New York Times, the London Times, Spin, Film Comment, Filmmaker, Interview, and Vogue, and was a contributing editor to Black Book, I-D, SOMA, and 7x7. She is currently an editorial director for ContentMode, an editor for Diane Pernet's www.asvof.com, and a contributor to 429 magazine; she has also been an invited speaker at the annual conferences of dot429, the world's largest LGBTA professional network. Her breakthrough interview given to Nathaniel Rich was the cover feature of the Fall 2006 issue of The Paris Review. She also gave an extensive interview to Adam Langer for the August 2013 issue of Interview Magazine. Laura and JT have become the subjects of the hit Brazilian rock musical "JT, Um Conto de Fadas Punk" (JT, A Punk Fairy Tale).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By B. Kelly on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read Sarah recently (thankfully after the 'author witch hunt' was over) and fell in love with the world created in the book. At its core, it's a tragic, but hopeful tale of one boy's journey into adulthood. The vivid landscape is dark and dangerous, but the promise of redemption hangs in the sky like the north star, urging us to read on. I devoured the book in one sitting and found myself wondering what happened to Cherry Vanilla long after I turned the last page. I find that when a book really stays with you, causing you to daydream about the fictional world, it must indeed be something special - which it is. I highly recommend this book.

Regarding the author JT LeRoy/Laura Albert - I don't understand why some people are angry?! Authors have been using pseudonyms and alter-egos since the written word was invented (pretty sure "God" didn't sit down and personally pen the Bible). People don't attack Stephen King for writing under Richard Bachman or JK Rowling for using a name that sounded more masculine. Did you know that George Eliot was actually Mary Ann Evans?! Or that Voltaire was actually Francois-Marie Arouet?! OMG the shock! The scandal!! WHO CARES. Let the works speak for themselves. If you like a book, does it really matter who wrote it? The beauty of fiction is that there are no rules and nothing is impossible. Remember the words of Lewis Carol AKA Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Free yourself from any preconceived notions and allow this book to be what it is: A brilliant and poignant work of fiction.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Romain Gary. on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
A year or two ago, there was a sort of mid-level scandal in the
publishing world when, at around the same time, it was revealed that
James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces, had palmed off as a
factual memoir what was, in reality, an almost total fabrication, and
that J.T. LeRoy, the author of Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful above
All Things, was not, in fact, the bizarre, very young, camera-shy
homosexual man that was presented to the public, but instead a woman
in her thirties named Laura Albert.
I'd read A Million Little Pieces a year or so before it was exposed as
fiction - no; "fiction" does it an undeserved credit - before it was
exposed as a load of horsefeathers, and for my own part, recognized it
before I was halfway through as the tissue of feeble, self-glorifying
lies it could not have been other than. I'd also read Sarah several
years earlier, and although I certainly considered Mr. LeRoy a very
odd character, I never saw any meaningful reason to doubt his
existence, or even give it any thought. It wasn't an issue. Sarah
remains one of the four or five greatest American novels of the past
ten years, and whether it was written by J.T. LeRoy, Laura Albert, or
a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter, it's a flat-out
masterpiece.
George Eliot wasn't really a man. The Ramones weren't really brothers.
Dr. Seuss did not, in reality, hold a valid medical license. You may
even be shocked to learn that my name isn't actually zarpex. But for
some reason, J.T. LeRoy is called a hoax. Authorial identity is one of
the crutches available to the aesthetically crippled.
Read more ›
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jenna Adams on April 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This whole thing is pathetic. And, yes, I read this AFTER the hoax was uncovered. The funny thing is, I so wanted to be amazed by the writing. I wanted for all the naysayers to be proven wrong, but instead I just found myself trudging through a pretty uninspired and mindnumbingly dumb novel.

As for the writer, I really don't care who she is because the writing alone speaks for the vapidness at play here; although I find the lengths she went to just to discredit other writers--or claiming people like Stephen Beachy as being liars when, in fact, they were reaching for the truth--to simply underscore the grifter behind the prose. I mean, come on, the JT Leroy web site has a fairly outraged diary entry from the author that speaks of the lies and deception at play from our current government (and this was right before the hoax was exposed). I think by denying ones own hand at large-scale deception while milking the current failings of the political landscape pretty much shows the self-centeredness and lack of integrity this author has. Anyway, like all con jobs, I'm sure she'll milk what is left out of this gag and move on to another scheme to keep herself in the limelight.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Tenpole Tudor on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Too bad Laura Albert couldn't cut it on her own as a writer. Too bad she had to conjure up an identity of someone much younger than herself to be taken seriously as a creative entity. And too bad that so many in the publishing world--agents, critics, artists, writers, etc.--jumped at the opportunity to champion the work of a reformed teenage junkie male prostitute . Doesn't matter if the writing is more suited for a grad-level creative writing class, just as long as it came from a reformed teenage junkie male prostitute instead of a 30-something wanna-be wife/punker from Brooklyn: because that makes all the difference, doesn't it? In any case, it might not matter at all to JT...uh, Laura...that she/he might be real or not; however, it CLEARLY mattered to JT/Laura that the writers and people she manipulated to gain so much attention were, in fact, very real: truth be known, she was banking on it. Whether this scam will pan out in the long haul for Laura is still up in the air, but from this point forward she'll have to prove herself as she is, which might be a lot harder than using the fabricated, cruel abuse of a child/wunderkind who never was. High-level performance art? Maybe. But it's true motives are as transparent as can be. The real victims here, however, are the young people who found a voice in "Leory" and believed someone they understood and trusted could put a voice to their lives and feelings when they couldn't. Let the heavy karma now unfold. Should be interesting.
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