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Paying for It Paperback – May 28, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
A compelling look into one man's history of employing prostitutes as a replacement for romantic love, this graphic novel is sure to create controversy. Brown has produced acclaimed but brutally honest autobiographical works before, but here he adds a new didactic element. In June 1996 Brown's then girlfriend broke up with him. After three years of celibacy and his growing conviction that romantic love is destructively possessive, Brown works up the courage to see a legal prostitute and finds the "burden" of anxiety over whether to pursue a relationship with any particular woman forever removed. The next 200 pages are an explicit—but far from erotic—dossier of the various women he did business with, until he meets one that he ends up with in a monogamous—but still financial—relationship. Although Brown intends the work to be a compassionate look at a profession that helps people, he unfortunately goes out of his way to anonymize the sex workers—never showing their faces and telling the story in tiny, cramped panels, giving the whole thing a voyeuristic feel. A lengthy appendix arguing that a system where paying for sex is preferable to romance-based methods is unlikely to persuade many readers. (May)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“[Brown] makes as convincing a case for the decriminalization and destigmatization of prostitution as anyone I've ever come across in the prostitutes' rights movement.” ―Annie Sprinkle, The New York Times
“Paying for It [is a] body-and-soul-baring memoir that is sure to stimulate strong reactions.” ―Heller McAlpin, NPR
Top customer reviews
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It is strangely melancholy; it seems searingly honest; it is unsparing in its presentation of the "john", the author himself; it offers many insights into the mundane realities of the trade. I found it illuminating and provocative.
The extensive appendices and notes which go into the arguments for/against in rigorous detail are a greatly appreciated and unexpected bonus, and save the first half from being overburdened with walls of text. Like a hug at the end of a session, it's a thoughtful and sincere demonstration that he cares about our experience.
The author has very little emotional affect--one of his closest friends, who is a character in the comic strip, writes in the afterword "The truth is, Chester seems to have a very limited emotional range compared to most people. There does seem to be something wrong with him. He's definitely an oddball. That said, he is also the kindest, gentlest and most deeply thoughtful oddball I know." He writes about these women as if they were merely useful only in terms of satisfying his sexual drive, while at the same time he remains loyal to his prostitutes, for the most part. And he actually falls for one of them toward the end, although "falls for" may be a bit too strong. He speaks about most of these women almost exclusively in terms of their relative attractiveness and he seems to prefer women half his age or less, breast size optional, weight below average. Nonetheless, you get a surprisingly human sense of the women after you get into the book, and you certainly have to admire Brown's honesty and straightforwardness. I'd recommend this for its sheer originality, as well as for Brown's healthy disdain for political correctness.