Thursday, September 25, 2008

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

If you asked me last month what my favorite book was, I might have answered Middlemarch, or Nightwood, or Pale Fire. If you asked me yesterday what my favorite book was, my answer would have been very different. You see, I recently happened on a minor, out-of-print YA masterpiece called Steffie Can't Come Out to Play. Why can't Steffie come out to play? Because she is a prostitute.


I dove into its depths without delay, and can now report with some confidence that it is the best book I have ever read, or ever will read. The story centers--how can this be true--on a girl who runs away to New York and falls in love with a pimp named "Favor," who eats nothing but steaks and dresses like a king.

Favor slept till noon and then showered and dressed. He looked so beautiful. He had on very tight French jeans and a blue silk shirt with a fluffy white sweater over it. And he put on a tan suede jacket. I almost stopped breathing just looking at him.

Favor isn't like other pimps. He is stylish. He is intelligent. He is so, so tender. He is made out of steak. He drives a gold car and rides the first wave of technology:

"Ohh! What's that?" I asked, pointing to something very complicated-looking on the dashboard. "Ahhh. My very specially-constructed, built-in, nothing-else-like-it-in-the-world tape deck. Here, come on..." He leaned over and put in a tape. "You like this?" The music had a heavy beat. It seemed to fill up my head, it was all around me. Hearing music like that, in something small and closed like a car, I don't know, it does something to you.

YEAH it does. It makes you a prostitute.

"You never been with a man before?" he said, still holding my hands. "Been with a man?" I said, like an echo. I shook my head. The wine was fogging me up. I wasn't understanding him..."BEEN with a man," he repeated, looking right into my eyes. "DONE IT WITH SOMEONE," he said very slowly. "I'll tell you what I mean. There are a lot of people who'd pay plenty for a body like the one sittin' in that pretty pink dress. And I mean plenty, baby."

Allow me to put this in perspective: that exchange takes place on the second day of their acquaintance. If his biographer is to be believed, Favor is the most compelling pimp that ever lived. In no time at all, Steffie is a ho. And hos, as we know, need clo'es.

He bought me French jeans. They were skintight and he said they looked wonderful. And he bought me a short skirt that looked like it was made of leopard skin and felt like it, too. And shorts the same material. And another skirt and another pair of jeans in a different color and a pair of high silver boots that came all the way up to my knees practically. They were the most fabulous things I'd ever seen. And they had high heels, too. I walked around the store in them feeling so glamorous--just what I needed. I wanted to feel a little better about myself and Favor knew just how to help me. He was so good about reading what was in my mind.

Soon, Steffie has steady customers, and these steady customers want...nasty things. Unusual things. They want her to--my God, I can hardly say it--they want her to stand naked in front of an open window. They want to slip her acid and have sex with her while she's freaking out!

I began to itch. All over. Everything itched so badly and I couldn't direct my hands to scratch the itching. I could hear my own breath and I was glad of that because if I could hear myself breathing then that meant I was still alive...I thought I was screaming but nobody came, nobody helped. The guy, the guy, he was holding me, holding me. Only it wasn't a guy, it was a lion. A lion, he was breathing on me, it was hot, so hot and I thought, how did a lion get in here? There's a LION in here, he's got his paws on me...

Now, I assumed the book would have a happy ending, that Steffie would be reunited with her family in the final pages and all would be well. This was not the case. Instead, Steffie arrives home only to be told that her favorite sister died the day before. Ha ha, whore! Too late!


As soon as I was finished, I looked the book up on Amazon, and I'm so glad I did. Amazon awesomely states that the book is suitable for ages 4-8, what the hell, and shows a picture of an alternate cover. NICE, but I prefer mine, what with its hypnotized teenage prostitute-face and upright pillar of man-fur lurking in the shadows. I was also pleased to read this incisive user review, written by a woman who calls herself "Trash Perfection":

SURE, THIS BOOK ROMANTICIZED PROSTITUTION FOR ME, BUT IT MIGHT NOT DO IT FOR YOU. BUT HEY, I'TS NOT LIKE I'M GONNA GO OUT AND BE A HOOKER. BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE SAW PRETTY WOMAN? SHE WAS A HOOKER, TOO. BUT IN THIS BOOK, STEPHANIE LEARNED SOME VALUABLE LESSONS...TO NOT BE A HOOKER!

Your tongue is golden, Trash Perfection. Are you by any chance related to a man named...Favor?

17 comments:

RHE said...

"He is made out of steak."

Favor and I wouldn't get along. I appear to be made of ground chuck. Also I don't have any French jeans. Mine are German-Jewish.

Tricia said...

Don't underestimate Favor! He would win you over in like a day, and take you shopping, and dress you like a prince.

RHE said...

I have seen how Prince dresses

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/Prince_by_jimieye.jpg

Please don't let him dress me like that.

Tricia said...

I have no control over it, baby. Favor is too too powerful.

Jilly said...

OMG that font on the cover

Tricia said...

A professional font for a professional girl.

Radish King said...

I became a Ho the very same way. Exactly the same way, in fact, except the tape was an 8 track.

Tricia said...

I am delighted by your capitalization of the word "ho," as if it indicated a person's membership in some kind of incredible cocksucking religious order.

ButtonHole said...

ROFL! Oh my god you've got to be the funniest person alive.

Tricia said...

Buttonhole! What a marvelous name.

Maggie May said...

that is awesomely funny. i want that book. amazon freaks me out now.

Admiral Farragut said...

This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Do me a Favor."

Suzanne said...

omg this is f'ing HILARIOUS!

ButtonHole said...

think yew, empress

Tricia said...

Oh no, children, I didn't see your speeches! Thank you!

asteadypace said...

I just found your post, after finally remembering the name of this novel - I think I was actually in the 4 to 8 age group when I read this, actually. Of course, I could have been ten. Those days all fade together at a certain point.

But either way, I remember this novel. I remember being fascinated by it. I also seem to recall that I felt as if I would make a better prostitute than Steffie so maybe I should have a go at it when I turned 14.

Huh.

But reading your post and seeing it quoted suddenly made me realize why reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight novels always gave me a sense of deja vu. I WAS THINKING OF THIS BOOK. That has made Twilight even scarier for me now.

I'm not sure whether to thank you or run away...

Tricia said...

Always glad to help, asteadypace. For what it's worth, I too imagined inhabiting the glamorous life of a teenage prostitute as I read. Poor Fran Arrick; the book got away from her.