FOREPLAY: The Memoirs of a Wanton Woman by Catherine Roman

FOREPLAY: The Memoirs of a Wanton Woman

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By the age of 24, Roman (a pseudonyn) had been a massage-parlor girl, a grave-digger, and a whore. Her book spills the racy and occasionally terrifying details. Born in a squalid Canadian factory town, Roman is brought up by aunts and uncles. She hates school, regularly sneaking off to the library to read. When the school asks her to leave, she heads for Niagara Falls, where she gets a job as a plucker in a chicken factory. She hangs out with strippers, is tricked into working as a drug courier, and is lucky to befriend a powerful local mobster. She moves to Toronto, where she finds work as a topless dancer, then a massage-parlor girl. Her friends are a mixed bag of hippies and street people who run wild, but who take care of their own with astonishing loyalty. One night at work, Roman meets a vaguely creepy guy who claims she resembles his newly dead wife; after he takes her to a hotel room and nearly strangles her, she picks up on the psychokiller vibes and escapes. Then she gets word that this charmer is tracking her, so she hitchhikes east to a nameless city where she digs graves and hangs out with a jewel thief. But the creep finds her and holds her prisoner for six months until she stages a courageous escape from his bunker. She retreats to a tiny logging town where she becomes a whore and makes a short stab at family life that ends tragically when her house burns down, killing her boyfriend and baby. A stint in a boondocks bordello and diagnosis as a manic-depressive follow. All this adds up to a quick and hair-raising read. One wishes for more factual details (what years are we in? how did Roman come to write this?). But, regardless: exuberantly hard-boiled prose and a total lack of self-pity make this lower-depths tour vivid and bracing as well as shocking.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1990
Publisher: Random House