NO MAN’S LAND by Ruth Fowler

NO MAN’S LAND

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

British girl with wanderlust ends up stripping in New York, hating herself for it, blogging, getting book deal.

After receiving a degree with honors from Cambridge University and indulging in five years of world travel, Fowler decided to chuck it all and wound up as an exotic dancer in a Manhattan club. As related in her memoir, the career move wasn’t entirely voluntary. Arriving in New York with dreams of being a journalist, she was pushed into shedding her clothes for money by visa problems and a lack of job opportunities; she wasn’t exactly thrilled about her new line of work. Fowler refers to her drugged-up, champagne-buzzed, private dance-hustling self by her stripper name, Mimi. (The nickname was first given to her by a former boss, exasperated that all she ever talked about was herself). This tactic wears thin both as narrative tool and psychological armor. The author may insist that she’s “torn between being fascinated by my own destruction and disgusted by it,” but she’s wrong to assume that readers will be similarly fascinated by her purposeful self-annihilation and curious superiority complex. Based in part on the blog she wrote about her downward spiral, the book’s principal merit is that it refuses to indulge in the glossy propaganda that tries to sell stripping as somehow empowering; Fowler’s obscenity-laced tirades about her seedy environment refute that sentimental notion. But the author’s background as frustrated novelist shows clearly in her overwrought, overheated prose.

Nothing that hasn’t been better told before.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-670-01939-7
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2008