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Whore Paperback – November 30, 2004

2.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Billed by her publisher as "literary erotica," Arcan's semi-autobiographical debut novel is an unremittingly ugly rant by a precocious, petulant daughter against the silent, bedridden mother who didn't love her enough and the devoted, God-fearing father who loved her too much. Born in a small Canadian frontier town near the border with Maine and raised in a fanatically Catholic community there, Arcan's good-girl, savagely self-destructive narrator moves to Montreal to attend college. As her studies drag on, she grows increasingly fascinated by the city's XXX shops. Without really understanding why, she answers an ad placed by a high-end escort service, takes 'Cynthia' as her whore-name and starts to make a lucrative career of her previously unprofitable self-loathing and nihilism. The novel itself is a series of hateful tirades that, although bitter, raunchy and repetitive, occasionally offer up some pointed insights. "I didn't become a whore with the first client," Cynthia explains. "No, it was long before that, during the figure skating and tap dancing of my childhood, in the fairy tales where you had to be the most beautiful and sleep yourself to distraction." In the end, though, it's impossible to feel any real sympathy for a raging misanthrope who crows with no small pride that "there's too much hate in me for a single head" or, some might argue, for a single book. Agent, Georges Borchardt.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Nelly Arcan was born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Her first novel Putain (Editions Du Seuil, 2003), drawing on her experience working in the sex trade in Montreal, caused a sensation and enjoyed immediate critical and media success. It was a finalist for both the Prix Medicis and the Prix Femina, two of France's most prestigious literary awards. The two novels that followed, Folle (Seuil, 2004), and A ciel ouvert (Seuil, 2007), established her as a literary star in Quebec and France. She is also the author of an illustrated book on the beauty myth for young girls, L'enfant dans le miroir (Marchand de Feuilles, 2007). EXIT (Anvil Press, 2011) was her fourth novel and was completed just days before she committed suicide in 2009 at the age of thirty-six.

Novelist, translator, and essayist Bruce Benderson is the author of a memoir, "The Romanian: Story of an Obsession", winner of France's prestigious Prix de Flore in French translation, and "Pacific Agony" (Semiotext(e), 2009.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,924,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To be honest I found myself pretty much engrossed and hanging on to every word dying to know what happens next, wanting to understand why a woman resorts to degrading and destroying herself like this, trying to judge with an open mind. I previously wrote for a newspaper in which I interviewed a police officer who told me that she had spoken to many prostitutes and that this was never a life that any of them wanted or chose. However, I didn't get that tone from this book at all, I felt the main character was conveying honestly that she chose this profession because she DOES enjoy it, gets a certain sort of perverse and unexplainable high or thrill out of "pleasure as labor"; apparently it wasn't even so much that she felt she had no better options and was simply doing what she had to do to survive, it was what she really wanted. I felt a mixture of emotions just as disgusted by her candor as much as I was admiring of it, unable to help wondering if this really might be what many hookers secretly think but are just never as open to admitting. I felt similarly about the somewhat graphic and audacious prose. If readers are annoyed by the run-on sentences and repetitiveness and monotony of sentence and paragraph structure I think the author actually intended for it to be that way, as a certain sort of symbolizing parallel for the repetitive monotony and seeming pointlessness and senselessness of the character's life in itself, as well as the seamless succession and her blasé attitude about all the men she encounters. I tried my best to be as nonjudgmental as possible but ended up being frustrated that I didn't really get the answers I wanted, didn't get any sort of profound epiphany or anything.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I got to page 34 of, out of 172, before finally giving up on this piece of trash. I'm not commenting on the subject. The life of a prostitute, and how a woman chooses to become one, can be interesting. Frankly, if you want to read an entertaining and coherent account of that, pick up `The Happy Hooker', by Xaviera Hollander.

Nelly Arcan might be a talented whore. As a writer, she leaves a lot to be desired. This book is nothing but stream-of-conciousness presented as a series of run-on sentences. Don't get me wrong. A well placed and thought out run-on can be useful but, like anything, can be overdone. Arcan overdoes it by orders of magnitude.

Not to mention the constant shifts is tense and point-of-view. Have you ever tried to listen to a teen-age girl explain anything? It can make you dizzy. That's how I felt by the time I threw in the towel.

The book reads like one long excuse for her decision to become a whore. And that's a word she loves very much. Whore. She uses it constantly. Like an epithet hurled in the reader's face. She denies it, of course.

Raised by Catholic nuns, hates her mother, loves her overly pious father, lives in the shadow of her deceased sister. Naturally, she becomes a prostitution. Who wouldn't, under those circumstances?

If you must read this tripe, do so while still in the bookstore. Read the first eleven pages. You'll get everything you need by then. However, to be fair to the author, it was translated. Maybe it reads better in French.
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She is so talented! I love this author! Her life story is so interesting! This book is as beautiful as it is brutal.
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Horrible, horrible, horrible. She's hot! but she sure can't write worth a crap. I use to work in the adult industry and was eager to hear other stories, but i've met girls like this over and over before. There is much more interesting and entertaining things to write about. Interesting she tried to change her life and become a writer, but i think she'd do much better at her old profession.
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Format: Paperback
While this book appears to be only a condemnation of prostitution from a woman's viewpoint, it broaches a number of other issues, primarily whether a person's life is a matter of their choice or almost ordained by their childhood experiences. Arcan comes down squarely on the side of the latter. While the word "whore" and comments regarding sexual interactions are frequently used, the words "mother" and "father" also make up a significant part of the book.
The actions of the narrator's parents are characterized as even more caustic and psychologically brutal than those of her clients. In fact, a number of times she concedes the positive aspects (if one can call them that) of her profession, while the tirades against her parents continue unabated.
Other topics mentioned in the novel are;
the lives of prostitutes are, on average, no more dangerous than workers in other professions.
the character debunks psychiatry and highlights the ridiculousness of assuming one can know the true feelings, motivations and fears of another person.
These and other ideas are overshadowed by the long, stream of consciousness paragraphs with plenty of commas. This writing style can be difficult to endure, especially with the topic matter, but it merits reading if only to challenge many common beliefs regarding human interaction, whether it is sex for money or parental responsibility or the adolescent's journey to adulthood.
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