I find these roundtable discussions an absolute joy to read.
Click through to see most of the Savage Critics discuss the problematic quasi-memoir/quasi-polemic about paying for sex.
Savage Symposium: PAYING FOR IT part 1 (of 4) | Savage Critics
Chris Eckert: . . . On that level, PAYING FOR IT didn’t work for me as a memoir. I knew going in that Chester Brown was a Canadian cartoonist that championed the patronization of sex workers over monogamous romance. I knew he was friends with Seth and Joe Matt, and that he used to date that lady from MuchMusic. I think I even knew he was a libertarian. If the reader didn’t know any of that, they can read the dust jacket of the book or skim his concise Wikpedia entry.
Brown’s decision to minimize any aspects of his life that didn’t involve being a john is understandable, if frustrating. Like Abhay, I think his conversations with Matt and Seth were the most illuminating and engaging narrative spine. But to structure the book as essentially a catalog of all his paid orgasms, and then seemingly take pains to genericize all but the Yelp Review-iest portions of said orgasms made large stretches of the book a slog for me. For an act that he posits is so ‘sacred’, he might as well have written a ‘memoir’ about all of the times in the past eight years that he’s scored cocaine, or shoplifted a book, or shit in someone’s hat. Actually, I bet all of those would have more variety in their telling. Unless of course Brown decided that to ‘protect’ others that he would draw all of the hats as a Seth-style fedora, and change the names of the stolen books.
As a polemic, it succeeded in feeling like a polemic. But I had the same reaction as Tucker to the level of argumentation. It didn’t help that a few years ago I read Against Love: A Polemic — at the behest of a Canadian girl, now that I think of it, what’s with Canadians? — and it covered much of the same ground, except it was written by a college professor who understands how to argue and cite resources. I didn’t find it any more compelling than Seth’s argument, but I could at least admire the structure.