Strip

Strip

Book - 2013
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John Rottam is on a journey back in time and place. Fleeing a private stripping engagement turned violent, he reflects on a time in his life when he was burdened with a broken heart, self-doubt and a floundering dance career. A few clumsy steps in the corps de ballet of a prestigious Canadian ballet company sends John fleeing to join a psychotic and incompetent dance troupe in Quebec City, run by the bitter Madame Talegdi, who all but destroys his dream of a legitimate career. Stifled by the walls of Old Quebec, limited French, and dwindling finances, John seeks out the feathers and sequins of the Chez Moritz nightclub, for a last shot at doing a little of what he loves, on the condition that he strips as well as dances. Johns fall from grace eventually lands him in a road house freak show, where he struggles to find love and a meaningful life amidst alcohol, deception, abuse and exploitation.
Publisher: Gibsons, B.C. : Nightwood Editions, c2013
Description: 281 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780889712904
0889712905
Branch Call Number: Bink

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weirdduck88
Apr 25, 2016

Many a year ago when this book came out, I read about it in the paper and thought it sounded like an interesting novel (and also written by a local writer too!). I put it on my Later list– it was only now, years later, that I finally got around to it. I think my expectations this time around were fairly low, but Strip just didn’t click for me, and I was once again disappointed (as I was when The Geography of Pluto turned out to be a bore). The writing itself isn’t bad at all, although the writer over-describes things that don’t necessarily warrant so much figurative language.

But mostly, this book just has a really unlikeable protagonist that I found yelling at on a few occasions while reading, particularly when he goes on and on about his ballet instructor legend/lover who abruptly disappears. From all the Daniel this, and Daniel that, you’d think the protagonist was sixteen, not a twenty-something year old. However, I’d say the thing that made reading the first 60 or so pages of this book so difficult was that John, the protagonist, doesn’t tell the audience how he feels about certain events or people or things (aside from the aforementioned whining about Daniel and how he looks down on fellow dancers). This renders the story inaccessible and difficult for the reader to really empathize with anything that happens, not to mention it makes John come across as arrogant and not self-aware. Maybe it gets better when he gets to be a stripper, but I didn’t even get that far (also, for all the pages spent pining and moaning about Daniel, the plot could’ve moved along a little faster).

Gay literature, like gay films, it seems, is really hit or miss, and this one, unfortunately, is a miss for me.

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