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I AM JENNIE by Jennie Ketcham

I AM JENNIE

By Jennie Ketcham

Pub Date: July 10th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-4476-0
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

A former porn star's account of her disillusionment with the industry and quest to forge a new identity.

This is the type of book that tells all and says little. In his introduction, addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky praises his former patient's bravery and candor in sharing her story. However, Ketcham's insistence on seeding her narrative with pornographic vignettes may be candid, but it is not illuminating. In fact, nearly every sex scene obscures more than it reveals. For example, the book opens with a profoundly unsexy play-by-play of a sexual encounter with another woman described with such clinical detachment that it's impossible to tell whether Ketcham was being paid to participate. To some extent, this confusion is the point. The author claims to have felt real desire almost as often as she faked it, which makes it difficult to maintain a distinction between her lovers and the people with whom she was paid to have sex. Her paid work was at least occasionally thrilling; having sex with certain unpaid partners was artificial and joyless. Rather than examining these potentially fruitful distinctions, Ketcham blithely glides over them, leaving readers more often bemused than enlightened. Her inability to distinguish between real and fake compromises her writing as much as it did her love life, and she often appears to be an unreliable narrator: Can parents who regularly abused alcohol and drugs in front of their children accurately be characterized as “not abusive?”

Ketcham is obviously a spirited, intelligent and painfully earnest young woman who wants others to learn from her mistakes, but her understanding of herself and the world around her is too limited to make her story instructive.