HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 3, 2010
Previously, Neil Strauss has authored books such as The Dirt and The Game. Now the author has turned publisher, and this unusual yet remarkable memoir is the first offering on the Igniter label.
If a man sleeps with five women he is hailed as a stud or a rock star. If a woman sleeps with five men she is branded a slut. It is a double standard. A term not just used by men to describe women. Women use it to characterise other women's behavior, to keep their friends in line and lower the status of the competition. In pickup lingo it is referred to as the 'anti slut defense.'
It's not difficult to imagine a cleric in her native Iran, waving this book furiously in public, denouncing the author, and then ritually burning it. It's no less easy to imagine a man in the crowd turning to someone else, while chanting along with everyone else, and asking his neighbor: 'What's the name of that book again?'
And the neighbor responds: 'The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage.'
And he may rationalise. I must buy my own copy and burn it, but first I must read it.
As you read with a sense of mounting anticipation, it invites you to experience through the authors eyes, with her words, to vicariously witness what it was like to grow up in Iran before and after the revolution, to be chased and scolded by the moral police, to be sexually precocious as a child, with dreams of being degraded by Iranian soldiers she saw on tv, to demonstrate a special organic capability as a teenager, while warching Axl Rose on tv. She gets way more out of tv than I do.
As an adult, her fantasies change to rock stars, the high energy, and the thrill seeking, and the relentless pursuit of the thrill, which can be experienced through that release.
In so doing, the author relates a story strangely fascinating, and sometimes lurid, and with the revealing photo montage that accompanies it, gives us both a full peek, and a full understanding. A picture does paint a thousand words. In so doing she uses abundant sensory language. I enjoyed reading particularly about her body sensations, and how her experience is even further heightened by the sometimes sordid surroundings, and the sheer grottiness of it all. I assume the paperback has the same pictures.
If you're like me the further you get into the book the more interesting it gets. In the second half the introduction of a love interest, will keep you guessing as to the outocme. The more extreme the situation she describes becomes, the more riveting the read.
The author admits once in the book that she is a nymphomaniac, and says in a tv interview that she thinks DR may be bipolar. The more accurate description applied to herself would be that she appears hypersexual with bipolar tendencies. The episode described in the book is one pole of the equation. Many sexual partners, infidelity, difficulty managing emotional ties and intimacy.
Many famous creative people including musicians, actors and writers publicly admit to bipolarity or depression with or without the hypersex. Frank Sinatra, Robin Williams. Axl Rose. Mel Gibson. Russell Brand. Carrie Fisher. Robert Louis Stevenson. Mark Twain. Ray Davies. Three musicians listed in the book show up in Wikipedia under bipolar musicians. If she did not live at the heightened edge of emotion, this book would not be half what it is. In that respect, it is a gift, and like a high powered car requires the driver to develop great control or crash.
Some of the events in the book may shock you. I was somewhat shocked by what she did two days after a medical procedure against medical advice, water sports, and the Yoko Ono manoeuvre.
I was shocked by her being passed around band members like a party favor (with her consent), and then looking for more. Her very relentlessness, and her insatiability both drive this book, and make it what it is. I read the latter part of the book in one go, and I felt somewhat like someone who had just ridden a rollercoaster at the end. I wouldn't want to get back on again straight away. She would.
I don't imagine this book would have much trouble getting published. Sex sells. The only legitimate threat could be the fatwa type threat, yet there is nothing remotely anti Islam in this book. I think Strauss has picked a winner, and I see no reason why this book would not be a bestseller.
Now the disclaimer. This book is not for everyone. Some people may find it appalling, and hate it. It's definitely not for your Bible study group. Most people having some advance knowledge of what it is, will enjoy it. If you have a heart condition, you might want to skip it.
As for whether she is the last living slut. I don't think Sluts R Us will be going out of business anytime soon. If this book has a message, it may be that sex is nothing to be ashamed of, and we don't need to apply a demeaning label to people who enjoy it. We certainly don't need to apply that label with greater rigor to women than men.
I will not burn it, but I do recommend it with the caveats above.
I hope this review was helpful, and I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I did.