THE WHORE NEXT DOOR by Annie  Campbell

THE WHORE NEXT DOOR

An Illustrated Memoir
written and illustrated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A child of the 1960s and ’70s recounts her road travels, family drama, and sexual exploration as she grows as a woman and a mother in this debut illustrated memoir.

In 1965 at the age of 18, Campbell left her family in Ithaca, New York, to move to Michigan with her boyfriend, forgoing plans for college and living in a single-room apartment next door to a knitting, baking, aging prostitute. This perfectly sets the tone for the author’s coming-of-age tale, a life lived impulsively and nontraditionally, filled with an eclectic cast of characters. They range from a financially lush but miserly “bum” living off saltines and a slow-talking apple picker to an R&B–loving magician, whose assistant was a mechanical frog, and even a couple of married virgins with terrifying rooms of pixielike dolls. Eager for sensual adventures, Campbell grappled with her own sexuality, her upbringing leaving her ill-informed during a time of supposedly free love. These struggles led her to an uninterested husband and later a musician boyfriend who was also a compulsive cheater. Along the way, she had two children, traveled extensively, and held myriad jobs, from house painting to waitressing to repairing antiques, eventually settling into farmwork. She ultimately found a man who fit into the life she constructed rather than one she had to build her ambitions and desires around. Each chapter of Campbell’s memoir opens with a colorful painting in a soft and warm style that captures some part of the anecdote that follows, either literally or in the abstract, splitting the difference between a graphic novel and an adult picture book. There is a bawdiness present in both the stories and illustrations, and the memoir is far from shy—its penchant for scatological humor is surprisingly satisfying. The narrative isn’t strictly linear, often jumping backward to the author’s youth to share some hilarious asides, from watching county fair strippers to getting stuck in a waste bin, that offer much-needed relief after more emotional chapters.

A softness and a ribald honesty as well as the paintings and prose combine effectively in this appealing account.


Pub Date: May 22nd, 2015
Page count: 349pp
Publisher: Anecdote Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2018




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