Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Partisan's Daughter - looking at the lives of prostitutes

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I have always been fascinated with prostitutes in literature. Their lives are colorful, tragic, disturbing and yet force one to look in awe, intrigue--it's difficult to turn away. I found their presence in Morrison's Bluest Eye, Ryan's Locke 1928, Faulkner's That Evening Sun, in almost any Hawthorne, to be lulling and at times more reliable than any.

When I first moved back home, 2004, I lived with my aunt for the first year. She has lived in the same home since 1964. Nothing had changed drastically. There was however one young woman, they called Bitty, who walked up and down the street. Sometimes, she'd be with her boyfriend, Eddie, and sometimes not. They were so in love. The problem was, however, Eddie's mother prevented him from living inside the house as long as he was dating Bitty. Instead, he and Bitty made pallets on the side of the house and sometimes, when it was freezing cold, makeshift partitions. They had even lived in the back seat of a car, used a cigarette lighter to warm the bottom of an opened can of god only knows what. My Auntie said they were "on that shit," but she still gave them food and sometimes hired Eddie to do yard work or clean the gutters or trim the shrubbery. Then one day, it got to a point when we didn't see Eddie that much, hardly at all. It was as if he vanished. But Bitty was still around. She'd walk up and down the streets and knock on doors looking for a sandwich, a cola, two dollars. My Aunt told me after turning her down several times, "A woman ain't neva broke and ain't no need for her walking the road hungry like that." I said, "What else can she do?" My Auntie said, "She got a pussy!"

I wonder what prostitutes think of and I wonder how they survive emotionally---maybe by a numbing kind of mechanism? And though Jean Rys' Good Morning, Midnight is a different read, I just now remember being so wrapped up in Sasha's mental state--the gloom.

Louis De Bernieres' new book A Partisan's Daughter sounds terrific! I haven't felt this anxious to read a book in a long time. I want to see what the author does with the characters and their differences.

Here's a snippet from Amazon and NYTBR:

De Bernières (Corelli's Mandolin) delivers an oddball love story of two spiritually displaced would-be lovers. During a dreary late 1970s London winter, stolid and discontented Chris is drawn to seedy and mysterious Roza, a Yugoslav émigrée he initially believes is a prostitute. She isn't (though she claims to have been), and soon the two embark on an awkward friendship (Chris would like to imagine it as a romance) in which Roza spins her life's stories for her nondescript, erstwhile suitor. Roza, whose father supported Tito, moved to London for opportunity but instead found a school of hard knocks, and she's all too happy to dole out the lessons she learned to the slavering Chris. The questions of whether Roza will fall for Chris and whether Chris will leave his wife (he calls her the Great White Loaf) carry the reader along, as the reliability of Chris and Roza, who trade off narration duties, is called into question—sometimes to less than ideal effect. The conclusion is crushing, and Chris's scorching regret burns brightly to the last line.

The NYTBR article is even better! A Partisan's Daughter

I ordered it for our library and have a request already put in.

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