Rent Girl by Michelle Tea and Laurenn McCubbin

#102 in my book challenge for 2005 was Rent Girl by Michelle Tea, a recommendation on Blog of a Bookslut. It’s an autobiographical account of Tea’s time as a prostitute. Just because a book is about prostitution doesn’t make it edgy or interesting. I found it irritating. Tea became a prostitute after she found out her girlfriend was one, and because she had nothing better to do and the money was good. There are some occasional insights about the relations between clients and prostitutes, and Tea’s honesty about her feelings about the clients are sometimes impressively complicated and dark. Ultimately, though, this is the story of a foolish, immature girl surrounded by others like herself. She does not grow or change over the course of the narrative, and I found it hard to care much about her. The book was further diminished by numerous misspellings. Additionally, the illustrations by McCubbin, a darling of comic-book bad-boy Warren Ellis, were not only stiff and too photo-model based, but they often contradicted the text. I found this disconnection particularly annoying. Did McCubbin not read the text carefully? Was the text altered after the art was done? Whatever the reason, the text describes one woman wearing a floral dress, but a solid-color sheath is pictured. Another woman is written as wearing a conservative dress, but one with a thigh-high slit is pictured. Later, a guy in a polo shirt is drawn wearing a button down. This book’s sales and reviews likely benefit from its salacious subject, but I found the story and art merely adequate.

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