MY GIRLFRIEND COMES TO THE CITY AND BEATS ME UP by Stephen Elliott (Cleis), 123 pages, $17.50 paper. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The gorgeous cover illustration by Laurenn McCubbin drew me to My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up. But it's 2006. I don't want to read another San Francisco bisexual whine about your bad childhood and redemption through S/M in a vaguely fictionalized memoir.
If I'm going to read about your terrible upbringing, your stint whoring and your sexual healing, I'd appreciate it if you'd take a writing class first. When it starts to sound like you're talking to your therapist, you'd better get yourself an editor. Some pieces in this book seem to end because Elliott just got tired of writing about stuff, and no one told him that might be a problem.
The back cover copy compares Elliott to Genet and Bukowski. But other than shared thematic elements - sex, drugs, glamorized poverty - there's no comparison.
It's a terrible time to be a slut in America and it's hard to trust a memoir these days, thanks to James Frey and JT Leroy. Though Elliott's introduction details his decision to designate the book as fiction, it's got those all-important memoir elements: abusive childhood, graphic sex and violence, liberation and a bright, happy future ahead.
Readers who identify with Elliott's childhood abuse or fetishes might find the book healing or titillating. The style is slice-of-life journalism with an eye for erotic detail - but it's inconsistent in tone.
Elliott sticks to the narcissistic details of his supposedly controversial sex life. But what's so contentious about a guy wanting to get beat up by his girlfriend? Turn to the back of this magazine and you'll find dozens of women offering that service.
I guess this is what passes for cutting-edge on the West Coast among the sex radical set, who are content to navel-gaze for another 10 years and call it political.
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