Posts Tagged Michael Adelberg

book review: Saving the Hooker


Saving the Hooker by Michael Adelberg. Publisher: The Permanent Press (March 2014). Contemporary fiction. Hardcover. 192 pages. ISBN13: 9781579623685.

When writing about an overeager post-doc completing a fellowship on saving prostitutes from their perceived miserable lives as only a man could possibly do, author Michael Adelberg does so with sarcasm, wit, lack of political correctness and aplomb. You’ll cringe at Matthew Hristahalois, a transplant to New York from the Midwest, and his arrogant exploits. He became obsessed with Pretty Woman and other “hooker with a heart of gold” Hollywood films and wondered if he could make this happen in real life.

He thinks: Why can’t I do this and get paid a stipend to write about it, thus prolonging my entrance into the real world as a professor or scholar? Instead he falls for a prostitute named Julia Roberts (someone once told her she resembled the actress so she dyed her hair red and went with it) and squanders the majority of his research funds trying to win her over like a suitor instead of a researcher.

This unsophisticated guy doesn’t know the street savvy woman he’s dealing with and soon she’s taking full advantage of his naivety. But he’s smitten and will do anything to keep the funds coming in from the university even it means lying to faculty members and falsifying research. As despicable as Matthew’s intents and plans, it’s impossible to put Saving the Hooker down. Adelberg ruminates on society’s obsession with social status, academia, the media and sexual stereotypes.

Here’s some of Matthew’s ridiculous/ sexist/ misplaced logic:

“For four nights, I imagined introducing myself to Ms. Caliente and telling her that I was a researcher. I imagined buying her a cup of coffee and talking with her about Mexico and how she fell into hooking. I imagined her telling me that I was the first truly nice man she’d ever known.”

[Of a social work professor] “Rubenstein looked the part of the aging hippie—long graying ponytail, oversized peasant blouse, and loose cotton pants. As I sat down, I wondered what she was like as a young woman; was she hot? I tried to picture her thirty years earlier.”

“I lied to my father about having a real girlfriend: I conned my old friends into thinking I was a dude with fun friends; and I pulled this off by financing sexual favors, including the loss of my own virginity, with the center’s research funds.”

“Without makeup and her wiseass banter to conceal the fact, she looked older—pushing forty. I could see veins in her face and little crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes. She was still attractive, but also flawed and tired.”

“After all the shit I’d endured: after all the debt, the bite, and the robbery; after real intimacy, I was still only a john. My anger rose.”

“The job market is dismal for young academics, particularly those with quirky academic interests- and then there’s the bias against white men in this era when colleges are desperate to create faculty diversity. I hate sending around resumes; I hate job interviews even more.”

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from The Permanent Press.

purchase at Amazon: Saving the Hooker

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