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Friday, July 3, 2009

Book Review - "Candy Girl" - A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody



3 star Pictures, Images and Photos

Diablo Cody is a screenwriter who won an academy award for her film Juno in 2007. Her book ‘Candy Girl’ has a recent second edition and the success of this book can be put down to two different reasons. The most probable is Diablo’s success as a screenwriter and this arousing an interest in her memoir. The other reason is the title of the book appeals to a broader market because she brands herself as an ‘unlikely’ candidate for stripping. However, surprisingly a high majority of strippers come from middle class families like her own.

This book presents one year of Diablo’s life hopping from strip club to strip club. She becomes a stripper, as well as a peep show girl and a phone sex operator. She spends 6 months stripping. This short time frame emphasizes the fact that Diablo’s experience is limited and results in her sometimes over-simplistic writing style and short-sighted perspective. Through this book, it’s hard to believe that Diablo went from stripping to performing illegal sexual acts in just one year.

Diablo started stripping because she was bored with her job as a copy typist and approached stripping from a journalist’s perspective. Every stripper’s reasons to start stripping are purely financial and not based on experimental research like Diablo’s. Her self-imposed distance from the ‘realness’ of stripping just skims the surface of this career. Diablo’s book is a compilation of facts from start to finish. Like a diary of events, this happened and then that happened… without going too deep. Diablo appears to hold stripping at arms length through the book, so she can somehow not be touched by it. It’s an understandable defense mechanism, but doesn’t offer enough substance for the reader.

Diablo’s work is littered with street-jargon and pop-culture references such as “Dinero to spare-o”, that elude the older reader; when simple words like “plenty of cash” are clearer and more effective to use. Diablo’s book is also jam-packed with strong metaphors and adjectives. It's like she has sat down with a thesaurus and tried to cram in as many impressive words as possible.

Throughout this memoir there are tiny elements of a non-fiction book. These include: “The Ten Best Songs to Strip to, The Ten Worst Songs to Strip to, The Ten Worst Stripper Names and “Activity Korner”. Although these elements are more suited to a non-fiction book, they are quirky, fun and help to break up the text. However, some people may view these visual aids as being out of place in a memoir and simply crutches for more inexperienced writers.

Diablo has kept the reader updated through the entire book on her ambitions, career, relationships and life outside of stripping. However, an unusual feature of Diablo’s book is her childhood is not revealed until one of the last chapters. It feels like she added it as an afterthought and it’s out of place in this location. If her childhood was explained at the start, it could have deepened the reader’s empathy and understanding of Diablo’s character while the book progressed. Instead the book feels disjointed and incomplete. One of her statements in this chapter “I was never molested as a child, probably because I wasn’t very attractive” belittles and offends sexual abuse survivors.

The last 2 pages of the book belong to a chapter called ‘Coda’ where she says she believes stripping is “puddle-shallow and symbolically molecular”. This is only one example of the slightly arrogant tone in Diablo’s writing. There is no explanation about how she could have changed on a psychological level.

I wouldn't recommend this book if you are considering a career in the stripping industry because it fails to underline the serious issues that stripper's face.

This book is a real page turner. I would recommend it to people who want entertainment value.

Book Review
by Lana Knight

1 comment:

  1. I felt she was very insulting in her book to people in our profession. I hated it. You are much nicer in your review then I would have been lol.

    ReplyDelete