WORKING STIFF by Grant Stoddard


The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert
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Undereducated, undernourished, underemployed git from Essex shows up in Manhattan and falls into job as sex columnist for hot website.

To say that Stoddard is the absolute last guy one would imagine to end up in the job he did would be an understatement of staggering proportions. After a raucous flash-forward detailing in graphic terms his experience having sex with himself (it involves plaster of Paris, a mold and a willing female friend with a harness) at a California ranch, Stoddard's memoir winds back to his modest roots in the benighted borough of Thurrock, Essex, one of England's “cultural blind spots.” Initially possessed of absolutely no luck with the opposite sex—those years at Thames Valley University are cringingly hilarious—Stoddard finally loses his virginity to a friend he visits in the US. His New York visits begin to stretch out, and he’s soon a bona fide Manhattanite, working for a small record label, conniving for cheap rent and getting as much mileage out of his British accent as he can. Although the meat of the book involves Stoddard's almost accidental hiring at the sex website at the height of the Internet boom—and his misadventures as the site's wacky columnist—his low-key writer's voice is better suited to the sad-sack persona he develops early on. Stoddard's descriptions of his increasingly edgy sex misadventures (bondage summer camp, public orgies, working out a closetful of kinks with an apparently endless stream of ready-and-willing New York girls) are enjoyable for their geek-out-of-geekdom charm. But the appeal here winds down as his career amps up.

This odyssey of luck is often charmingly relayed. However, by the time the formerly mousy Brit finds himself in California shooting a pilot for VH1 and sleeping with teenagers, it all loses its luster.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 2007
ISBN: 0-06-087612-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2006