Posts Tagged The Permanent Press

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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Nothing Serious: book review

nothing serious

Nothing Serious by Daniel Klein. Publisher: The Permanent Press (2013). Fiction. 216 pages. ISBN13: 9781579623142.

After working in the 1980’s and 1990’s for The Village Voice and New York Magazine– a glorious time to work in print journalism—the pot-smoking, elitist Digby Maxwell finds himself out of work. What happens when a New York trend spotter accepts a position at a small Vermont college to edit and modernize a failing philosophical journal? Everything. It forces Digby Maxwell much self-reflection and compromise.

Author Daniel Klein [himself a Harvard graduate in philosophy] writes: “The source of this talent, he believes, is his aptitude for empathy in the service of exploiting rather than helping his fellow man. He picked up quickening vibes where others only picked up cacophony; he detected subconscious whims in the unconscious masses.” As Digby familiarizes himself with the Cogito staff and attempts to bring the coolness factor to the magazine it becomes clear that either Digby’s fooling everyone or he’s the fool.

For decades in Manhattan, Digby chose the cool bands, coffee shops and various social trends well before his readers had heard about them. He lived a lavish and comfortable lifestyle. Paid well for his editing and writing and most likely guest-listed for art gallery openings, clubs, concerts and receiving all the latest wonder products gratis. At Cogito, Digby must come to terms with his waning power and lack of relevance as the editorial world changes. However he’s not quick to relinquish his abilities and ideas. The first issue he edits will focus exclusively on Heaven, not a popular choice with the staff or with the journal’s sponsors. Klein writes: “The ad pulls by those stodgy university presses are actually a testimony to his innovative genius; they simply cannot keep up with him.”

Taking the fish-out –of-water novel to an innovative, brilliant level, Klein writes a witty, crisp, intellectually amusing and thoughtful novel about a writer and editor coming to terms with not being at the zeitgeist. Any wordsmith, consummate reader will appreciate well-designed sentences such as: “Yet finally discerning the pattern of Felcia’s deviousness brings him a dulcet dose of peace.” Nothing Serious is a brilliant meditation on print media and its changing format and relevance.

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

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

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book review: A Year of Cats and Dogs


catsanddogsAuthor: Margaret Hawkins

Release date: October 2009

206 pp.

Publisher: The Permanent Press

The thing about living with animals is you’re never alone. When your partner your sweetie your main squeeze your baby your heart your one your only your love your life your husband your wife moves out you think you’ll go crazy or at least be lonely and you do and you are at first but then mostly you’re not. The animals close in around you, good company that keeps you busy and warm in bed, and they are never critical.

When I left my job five years ago, feeling like the walls were closing in on me, I immediately started taking classes toward a nursing degree. Basically I segued from one unhappy situation to a highly stressful situation and nearly had a mental breakdown. In A Year of Cats and Dogs, Maryanne leaves her rather dreary day job with every intention of living off her savings and doing “nothing” for a while. She’s 49-years-old and recently divorced, which has proved rather stressful of late, and she feels that she deserves this sort of break from reality and routine. She figures she’ll be happier on her own timeclock. Maryanne approaches her life in a very Zen way. Things are going to happen and she cannot change the outcome but she can make everything more bearable, more enjoyable, and more entertaining in some manner. She finds that animals can communicate with her through telepathy [she’s basically an “animal whisperer”]. This special talent leads to a job at the animal shelter and a romance with the veterinarian. Maryann also finds out that her father, who she cooks dinner for every week, has late-stage prostate cancer. Though she is surrounded by death, Maryann finds hopefulness in her own life. A Year of Cats and Dogs reads like a memoir instead of a novel as debut author Margaret Hawkins uses coin throws from the Chinese book of changes, I Ching, as headers for each chapter and intersperses comforting recipes throughout the book. A Year of Cats and Dogs is a quirky, engaging story about resilience, empathy and love.

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