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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

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: #991,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
This novel is pure narrative. If a writer was needing to hear the most basic creative writing mantra, "show don't tell," it is Nelly. Whoo Nelly. She is angry in the classic l'enfant terrible way. She performs oral so frequently on men that they blur, much like her life. She fails to devolve into specifics. The novel fails as it never escapes the confines of ranting. There are some stunning passages and I feel Arcan can write well. She could easily manouver through temporal sequences from a narrative, which is a hard skill to attain.
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Format: Paperback
Holy run on sentence. One period per paragraph.
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