Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm Obsessed With This Book: STOPLESS by Wanda Lee Robinson

I'm not usually a memoir reader, but people keep on passing me their books and I keep on reading them. If you're the same way, consider this my passing a book onto you...

The author's story reminds me a lot of my mom's. I won't go into details because I don't want to embarrass my mom (who you don't know and who doesn't read this, so maybe it's not a big deal?). If you read the book you'll learn more about my mom. And I think learning about my mom should be a priority.

So, STOPLESS: A lot of hard drugs, making it in the underworld of seventies New York, stripping for a living, run-ins with celebrities like Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger, etc. Sounds like your normal run-of-the-mill case study, right? Right, but there's something great about this one. I read it right after I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. If Wanda Lee Robinson had the same pull in the publishing business as Jeannette does, her book would be just as widely read. (Nothing against Jeannette; her book is excellent and she's a nice lady according to an email she accidentally sent to me instead of her editor one time).

Since I'm obsessive, I did some research on Wanda and found out that she's self-published and looking for an agent. Anyone out there? I want to take her under my wing and nurture her after reading this (even if she is twice my age). This is how I feel about my mom sometimes, too. My guess is that Wanda self-published because she didn't know how to go about it any other way. I'm making it my job to build her a cult following, starting right here!, and get her an agent/publisher.

I stole a mini synopsis from her website since I'm not a good book-summarizer. And I'm lazy:

From CBGB's to Billy's Topless, the book recounts days of a bygone New York City, punctuated by run-ins with Sid Vicious, Andy Warhol, Pia Zadora, Mick Jagger and Art Carney. In a city reeling from a serial killer nicknamed Son of Sam, Robinson recounts a seedy side of New York City that, while very much still alive, has since been Disney-fied with chain stores and franchise restaurants.

Cursed in the womb when her father beat her pregnant mother, Robinson becomes a target for her mother's hatred. Sexually abused by those she trusted—including her mother's boyfriends—and ultimately abandoned, a 16-year old Robinson runs away to New York City to fulfill her dreams of becoming an actress. After being fired from a corporate job, Robinson turns to cocktailing at a strip club to make ends meet—and is exposed to a dark side of drugs and sex.

When a run in with Bob Dylan cost Robinson her job, she starts stripping. Her tainted childhood, need for acceptance and addictive personality are no competition for the vices she encounters. She turns to crystal meth, valium and cocaine to deal with the pressures of stripping and memories of her painful childhood. What begins as casual drug use evolves into a full-blown addiction. In the end, Wanda is left with a lethal ultimatum: change or die. Despite the gravity of its content, Robinson manages to instill STOPLESS with humor and priceless insight.

So yeah, I definitely recommend it. The prologue is eerie but the first sentence of the first chapter is where it's at. And from there, it's all good stuff. You can buy it on Amazon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This book is great. Just finished it. Can't stop thinking about it.