"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review #4: Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, by Jillian Lauren

Some Girls follows the story of Jill Lauren, a young stripper turned escort turned harem girl. The harem to which she belongs is that of one of the brothers of the Sultan of Brunei, a figure that I know intellectually is real, but one that is also a little mythical in this small town girl's mind.

Lauren spends quite a bit of time going back to her childhood, and some of the stories are a little tired: she felt inadequate, she had angst over her adoption, her father was abusive, she played at sex at an early age. In another author's hands, these stories might have been seen as a plea for sympathy, a poor-little-stripper-girl who couldn't help that she turned out this way because her daddy just didn't love her enough. But Lauren recounts her childhood in a very matter-of-fact way, and moves on to the next chapter. I'd be interested to hear what her relationship is like with her family now, in present day.

The story begins as Lauren drops out of high school, getting her GED to be able to move to New York to begin college, an endeavor that lasts less than a month. She winds up stripping while waiting to break in to acting, meets an escort who brings her in to the business, and suddenly finds herself on an airplane, headed for Borneo, headed to become a harem girl.

The politics of the harem are fascinating. There's a pecking order and there's the usual forming - and breaking - of alliances that goes on whenever women compete for a man's riches and affections. Life in the compound is an endless cycle of sleeping late, diet pills, champagne, and late night parties, where the girls dance for the prince while they wait for him to deign to choose them to pleasure him privately. The unchosen ones stumble home at 4am, only to sleep till noon and begin all over again. The chosen ones live the same life; they just stumble home a little bit later.

Lauren's writing is beautiful and spare, and she peppers her stories with just a touch of sarcastic editorial remarks to make you feel like she's your girlfriend dishing about a bad date. I'm disappointed that I can't hang out on her couch and drink a bottle of wine with her.

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