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Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel (Nancy Chan Novels) Hardcover – August 14, 2001

3.1 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In timely step with stories glorifying characters created for video games, Quan's semi-autobiographical novel takes readers by the hand (and various other appendages) at the tail end of call girl Nancy Chan's career. Chan (whom Quan created for her Salon online column) is a "successful" (read: expensive) prostitute who spends more time listing her favorite clothes, restaurants and cosmetic tips than even Bret Easton Ellis did in American Psycho. In between $400-per-hour quickies at exclusive hotels, Nancy and her happy hooker pals Jasmine and Allison attend sex-industry activist meetings and debate the sinister reappearance of Jack, a former john who now appears to be obsessed with Allison. Nancy whines about this and her deepening relationship with her commitment-minded boyfriend to her shrink, also revealing how she plunged into prostitution as a teen. The novel has neither a substantial plot (Nancy dithering over whether to marry her dream boyfriend and get out of the life) nor sex appeal: Nancy's descriptions of her sensual encounters, be they professional or personal, are about as erotic as a stereo instruction manual ("always do a few extra Kegels afterwards"). Fans of Quan's online column may enjoy the continuation of Nancy's X-rated soap opera, but first-time readers may be put off by her snobbishness.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Quan, who put her career as an elite Manhattan prostitute on hold to become a writer, is the author of a popular salon.com column chronicling the adventures of fictional call girl Nancy Chan. Those biweekly installments grew into this reality-based novel. Nancy's central dilemma, hashed out in her diary and with her shrink, Dr. Wendy, is whether to give up hooking when she becomes engaged to her sweet Wall Street-whiz boyfriend, Matt. Her two best friends (and colleagues), Allison and Jasmine, offer little support on this front. Jasmine is firmly against marriage, and Allison, who is 30 going on 19, is too obsessed with her own problems (including her foray into the sex workers' activist movement) to be of any help. The descriptions of Nancy's "dates" read like soft porn, but Quan does pose some interesting questions about gender and sexuality and a certain brand of "sex-positive" feminism (represented by writers like Camille Paglia and Susie Bright). But the main point here is to be erotic and playful. Quan manages both in a book that makes perfect beach reading. Beth Warrell
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Nancy Chan Novels
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (August 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609607243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609607244
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,943,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Nancy Chan lunches with her friends. She shops. She visits her shrink. She works out. She worries about her fiance. She frets about money. She can't find a cab in the rain. She dreads going before a co-op board. She lives an utterly Manhattan existence except for the fact that she's a call girl. Tracy Quan has created a humorous novel that discusses the life and times of a modern call-girl in a matter-of-fact way. She talks about sex with clients in the same way she discusses working out. A kegel here, an ab crunch there. They're both just simple parts of her life. Nancy's clients are an interesting and accomplished and older bunch, and her fondness for them is apparent. They add depth and color to the novel. These are not "Johns" in the typical sense. As Nancy travels around town, she encounters a cast of characters we have not seen anywhere else. A call-girl who graduated from being a drug dealer. A call-girl who graduated from the Ivy League. Sex-worker activists. Sex-worker groupies. A fiance whose sister works for the District Attorney. A fiance who works on Wall Street. Nancy doesn't just play her life for laughs. We learn about her childhood in Canada and her youth in London, where she turned tricks in hotel bars. There were scary moments on the job, so she doesn't glorify her profession. But she demonstrates courage and perseveres, until we find her at the top of her game, able to efficiently address a client's needs without mussing her hair or making her late for dinner with the in-laws to be.
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By A Customer on August 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a delight: brisk, full of witty and subtle human observation, spicy in its frank and clear-eyed evocation of the high-end hooker's life. The prevailing tone is madcap comedy in alternation with a drier humor, but the author makes surprisingly moving detours into reminiscence and reflection; nobody will have trouble empathizing with the splendidly confused heroine. Tip: for fullest appreciation, log on to Salon.com and read the 50 or so episodes of Nancy Chan's life that lead up to the starting point of the novel.
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Format: Paperback
As a twentysomething, college educated female who has experience working as a professional escort, I was very eager to get my hands on this book. The popular media invariably portrays all sex workers as disenfranchised, lowly women who are in the trade due to desperation.

This is a vast misrepresentation; escorting can be fun, profitable, and even romantic. Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl provides a much needed voice of balance. The main character, Nancy Chan, is working as a high-class call girl because she *wants to*, not because she *has to*. This is an important distinction amid a sea of media propaganda about the world of escorting.

Nancy has been drawn to escorting for a number of reasons: she loves the money, she loves the excitement, etc. At the same time, she wants to have a "conventional relationship."

The sections in this book that described Nancy's inner dialog reminded me of my own situation. I won't list any spoilers here, but the novel presents the idea that a woman who works for a stint as a call girl can still find married love and upper-middle class respectability. The book even suggests that the two can exist concurrently--a theme which the author apparently explores in a sequel to this novel.

I also liked the descriptions of the sex scenes. Whereas sex between an escort and a client are usually portrayed (in the mainstream media) as seedy exploitation, Nancy Chan's bedroom romps with clients are decribed as playful, naughty encounters.

At just under 300 pages, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl is short enough to be a fairly quick read for the attention deficit challenged. The emotional conflicts, suspense, and the sex scenes will keep you turning the pages.

In summary--a welcome and much overdue addition to the world of chick lit!
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Format: Hardcover
Quan's character-driven story of a pricey call girl stewing over both important life decisions and day-to-day trivia was fascinating to me because she and I have both worked in the same profession but have had such very different experiences. Where my work has mainly been "small town," Quan has worked as an upscale, uptown, chic and elite call girl. Quan's writing has been eye-opening for me because she shows another way of approaching the work -- another life altogether.
But this isn't just a book about escorting and escorts and it's appeal is much broader than self-referential reading for other sex workers. This is a book about life, choices, fears and successes that everyone has in one form or another. More than describing the life of a call girl, Quan is describing the life of a Manhattanite. Stand aside, Seinfeld; step back, Sex and the City -- Nancy Chan owns New York!
The characters are absolutely fascinating; I devoured this book. I've got my fingers crossed for a sequel -- I want more!
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By A Customer on June 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Been there, done that, and the bottom line being, this book tends to glorify and create a sad misconception of a dark, consuming lifestyle. If her quasi-memoirs happen to encourage naive young ladies into the "game", then she ought to feel ashamed for herself for most will encounter a nightmare of the likes they've never seen before.
I was once a so-called pimp (writing my own memoirs at the moment) and the garbage I was witness to, troubled me deeply. This was on the up-scale level, escort side of the equation. Not the street. The freaks in this business knows no demographic: Rich, poor, culutured, plebeian, race, color, or creed. They walk amongst them all...
I have yet to encounter a book by a former sex trade worker that truly tells it like it is without shamelessly glorifying their perception of themselves and more often than not, continuing the denial (a prerequisite to remain in the game) in the failing hope of hanging on to what little self esteem remains, if any at all.
I was very disappointed and found it to be a boring read as she meandered through her tale. It was a struggle to finish the book. I was that turned off. It's like comparing Disney flicks to pornography. That's how far removed it is from real life. Part fiction? All fiction is more like it. Replete with a sacharin-sweet, candy covered coating. Ugh...
A book that truly tells of the darkness is "Children In the Game" by Ross McInness (former Calgary vice detective). I have seen the fear, the horror, and the pain as it is depicted between those very pages. If you want the truth, by his book!
(retired administrator, formerly of Ambrosia's Allure -
a once high-end Toronto escort service)
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