Letters of the week

Readers reflect on call girls, blurbing, sisterhood and more.

Published August 9, 2008 9:03PM (EDT)

Read the story "Ask a call girl"
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The interview was well done and it's nice to see regular women who aren't seriously deranged who were in this line of work and see the similar yet different responses. Some sterotypes are true, some aren't. Though the other aspects of sex were glossed over, how often are they asked to not use a condom? Do they comply for a price? How often do they check for STD's, have they ever caught any? No herpes or warts ever? What about unintended pregnancies? Do those happen? Do they just get abortions? Do they not work if they think they are ovulating? Are they all on hormonal birth contol? What's the life span of this type of work.

So it's all well and good to be fine with being paid for sex or company or a girlfriend experience. But it's kinda like talking about football and never mentioning injuries.


Read the story "Why don't you blurb me?"
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For my first novel, I approached writers in my genre I knew only by reputation, and had no problem finding established writers willing to read my manuscript. None promised a blurb, and a couple ended up politely passing. But with minimal fuss and bother I got blurbs which pleased my publisher and in process got to know writers who've now become friends. And, honestly, one of the closest friends is one of the writers who decided she couldn't do a blurb.

For my second book, because I'd moved publishers, I was asked to hunt down blurbs again, and my experience the second time through matched the first. Maybe the problem is the so-called "literary" world, which ultimately is just another marketing category anyway. Certainly among the genres, authors of all statures are amazingly approachable.

The value of blurbs is probably minimal, but they seem to carry a small amount of weight in a couple critical demographics: reviewers and book sellers. The blurbs themselves may be less important than the fact you have them at all. "Yes, I can take this book seriously because these established names are willing to vouch for it." And don't underestimate the power some blurbs can have. Not all readers ignore them, and I've spoken to a few readers of my own work who specifically said that they decided to give it a try because they liked one of my blurbers.

The nature of blurbs being what they are, some are more valuable than others. Certain authors are known for giving blurbs to anyone and everyone. Their intent in often to be generous, but the effect is to devalue their own endorsement. Other authors are known to be more picky, and informed readers do learn the difference.

As for the burden on us creative types to act as marketers too, well, it's the world we now live and work in. We can complain, or roll up our sleeves and do whatever we can. The trick is to figure out what you're able to do as a self-promoter, and not try to be something you're not. Some authors are more comfortable in public venues. Others can make the online world work for them. Some are willing and able to make dozens or hundreds of drive-by visits to bookstores. You do what you can. Is it fair? Probably not, but anyone who reaches adulthood expecting the world to treat them fairly needs to go back for remedial parenting. And, in any case, ultimately the most important thing any writing can do is write the best novel they can.

As a side note, I see the name J.D. Rhoades in this letters thread. I just finished his newest book, Breaking Cover, and it's a must read. That's not a blurb from some author, just the recommendation of a reader who happily recommends J.D.'s kick ass, take no prisoners thriller.


Read the story "My fair gangsta"
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While I suppose suggesting that "From G's To Gents" derives its concept directly from "Ladettes to Ladies" allows for a more interesting examination of the shows and their attitudes toward gentility, it would seem to me that a crucial step has been missed. Isn't the closer evolutionary cousin to "Gents" not the British show but an American one (conspicuously absent from the article)? "Flavor of Love: Charm School" pitted women who had behvaed badly and then been dumped by Flavor Flav (or vice versa) against one another in a virtually identical show, except that Mo'Nique is a rather more emotional, self-righteous and hilarious host than Bentley.

This genre of alleged self-help interests me at least in part because I believe some of its practitioners truly believe it. Certainly Mo'Nique seemed certain she was MAKING A DIFFERENCE in these girls' lives. And perhaps she was. But it's nevertheless true that we don't watch these shows to see the transformation of bad girls into good girls, we watch to see how petty, conniving and vicious the girls (or boys) are behind the backs of their mentors.

The whole genre exists to give shabby moral cover to what is often a deeply inhumane process. Just as "The Real World" gathers together seven drunk assholes and then sends one of them to rehab to prove that they "care" -- enough to kick them off a show but not enough, apparently, never to bring them in the first place -- so do all of these shows allow us to do what people have loved to do for generations: watch others fight, swear, get drunk, behave like brats, get away with it for a while and then be exposed forever.


Read the story "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2"
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I've seen both movies now and while I'm a grown woman (28 years old, woohoo!) now with a basic sense of self and what I want out of life I still worry about 19 year old me. After seeing this second pants movie, it occurred to me that had I'd seen Sex and the City as a 19 year old I would have left feeling poor, deflated, and kinda fat. If I saw this Pants movie at that time, I would have been excited about the future, being a woman, and inspired to do really cool things with my life not to mention take fun trips with my girlfriends. My inner 19 year old really appreciates Stephanie's take on this movie.


By Salon Staff

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