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Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews with Hideous Men Paperback – March 26, 2012
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Thorn does a good job of sharing the good, the bad and the (sometimes very) ugly of the pickup world. She fully immersed herself to the point of not only interviewing some of the key players but actually engaging with them in the field as they practiced their craft. Although Thorn is frank is saying she comes from a feminist perspective, she is scrupulously fair in her characterization of the individuals in this subculture. She gives full credit to the teachers who help their students gain confidence with women through an understanding of social dynamics (picture an IT engineer who just doesn't "get" women or how to relate to them). On the other hand, Thorn creates a vivid picture of misogynistic gurus and their practice of using psychological pressure to try to get a woman to submit to sex when they have last minute resistance.
Overall this was both a good read and an informative look at a community that most people only know from seeing Mystery's VH1 series "The Pickup Artist".
Here is the good bits first:
Clarisse has a very unique way of analzying PUA tactics, using not only feminist theory but practices within the S&M community. That was an unexpected treat, since I was unfamiliar with Clarisse's writing prior to reading the book. I particularly liked her take on the famous freeze-out technique.
She has an easy-to-read, engaging and personal writing style that many reader will enjoy. Since Clarisse used her own love life as a parallel for the PUA community, you feel like you get to know the woman behind the name.
But here's the bad:
At times, Clarisse's writing can get a bit repetitive, especially towards the end. That was a shame since it overshadowed some of the great insights that she had. For example, at the end of every chapter, Clarisse adds a tl;dr section, which not only unnecessarily beefs up the page count, but is a bit patronizing to the reader.
When I started the book, I had expected a rigorous analysis of PUA techniques from a feminist perspective. There was some of that, but there was a lot of discussion aobut Clarisse's love life and friends that seemed superflous at best, self-centered at worst. It got so bad at somem points that I skimmed ahead to the stuff that I came for: PUA tactics. Even at the end, it's not clear why Clarrise decided to focus so much on her love life in a book about PUAs.
Also, this book needs a better editor. Not only was it bloated, but the author uses terminology that is simply incorrect. For example, "USA men and women" should be "American men and women." These kind of mistakes happened often enough to distract from the content.
In summary, this book isn't a bad read if you want a quick overlook to PUAs, S&M and feminist theory from a deeply personal angle. If, however, you're looking for more rigorous and in-depth analysis of the PUA lifestyle, this book isn't for you.
At many points, I found myself drawing a conclusion before seeing her write the same exact conclusion in the next paragraph. At other times, she'd enlighten me to a point of view that I never considered before. Sexuality in America today is...kind of a crazy mess (in a good way). Books like this are great for trying to navigate the waters.