knows where by God knows whom. probably to have the Devil knows what inflicted upon him. This is real horror: the despairing pain of the parents. the nightmare ofthe snatched boy. the gross inhumanity ofone depraved psychotic visited upon the unsullied innocence ofa 12-year-old. Strieber methodically tracks the trauma. frotn singling out to abduction to torture to . . .
The one sure thing is that lunatics are out there and children go missing every day. By focusing on this ghastliest ofcrimes by way of a gripping thriller. Strieber makes us all aware of the dark deeds that some people are only too capable of committing. ((‘raig McLean)
BUILT TO LAST
l Invisible Architecture Steven Kelly (Picador £14.99) These poor authors at the mercy oftheir publishers. I don‘t know. (‘hap goes over to Vienna to do a bit ofstudying. a bit of alternative culture existence. decides to write a novel about it (as any self-respecting intellectual type would). gets the smart idea to christen a bar his characters hang out in Harry Lime‘s. Next thing he knows he's being compared to the early Grahatn Greene. a novelist much revered these days for being old.
Well if I was Kelly I'd have a word. This is better than anything Greene has written. This book kept tne awake at night. An exaggeration. but I‘ve been really tired lately. It is haunting. with an emphasis on grotesque detail. as the gloss of nice living is wiped away to reveal the dark past. the Nazi heritage. A dinner party becomes Grand ()pera as the host tries to mask his past. The mysterious Adele is really Monika. the Irishman has a claw instead of a hand. and what you love is what you tnost hate.
This satisfying. complex book takes the form of interlocking novellas and sets up intriguing stresses between the various narrative viewpoints. The author seems to have been flexing his muscles before assaulting the grand novel. Then again. the form of Invisible Architecture is so pleasing. I don‘t know why people write novels. as such. any more. anyway. (Thomas
£1OO SPRING BOOK
GIVEAWAY! PAGE 91
A new study of prostitution goes beyond the stereotyped responses of pity or vilification and lets the practitioners ofthe trade speak out for themselves. Julie Bertagna talks to author Allegra Taylor.
In a rootn. naked prostitutes sit knitting. Around them (‘avort a group of young men. also naked. and so engrossed in the task of drenching one another with champagne that they are oblivious to the women's presence. This is a whore‘s-eye view of an orgy — easy money and a ‘safe' setting for straight men to explore undertones of homosexuality. It is one of many sexual myths that crumble on reading Allegra 'I‘aylor's Prostitution: What's Love (it)! To [)0 With It? (.‘vlacDonald ()ptitna £7.99).
'l‘aylor's starting point is unorthodox: the whore is an intrinsic part of female sexuality. truncated by social constraints. that women should accept and explore. ller holistic approach stems from the impulse to reclaim scattered fragments of female identity that is a cornerstone of the feminist movement. So it‘s ironic that some of the book's perceptions will throw women to positions of polar opposites. none tnore so than those feminists on a crusade to reclaim ‘the Goddess within'.
There are plenty ofstrong. positive assertions that prostitution is ‘a noble service profession like nursing or teaching'. that it is a knife-edge
thrill for some women. like hot-air ballooning. that it's about female : power and control. and gaining self-respect through self-reliance. It is also clear that. in many cases. it's about self-destruction and zero options.
‘l’d wanted women to listen to one another.‘ says Taylor. ‘The voice of all women has to be heard. not just that ofthe politically “right”. Prostitutes are automatically condemned: they‘ve never before had a sympathetic hearing.‘
Asa personal quest. Taylor. a grandmother. became a prostitute fora night. and spent most ofit listening to the self-engrossed ramblings ofa poor little rich boy. She concluded that the experience ‘was no different from something I might have done myself for free 20
SPRING BOOKS SPEGIAL
Prostitutes used to seeing men as ‘damaged children‘. pliable victims rather than dictators ofa throttling sexual code. blame wives and feminists for their lack of understanding: ‘Men are people and we‘re tired of feminists treating them as ifthey're not.’
Whether or not the boot is on the other foot. it is difficult to dismiss such provocative counterpoints to feminist thinking. precisely because they are the voice ofa long-neglected slice of female experience. And the echo. on page after page. is the alienation of women from the rest of their sex.
But in glueing herselfto one stance. 'l'aylor skitns carelessly over coutiter-arguments: censorship and anti-kerb-crawling laws are. viewed through the eyes of a prostitute. the repressive measures of ‘angry. man-hating. unforgiving' and heavily stereotyped feminists. To ignore the complexities of these issues weakens what is a very gutsy book.
‘You either write one book or another.‘ says Taylor. ‘I wanted to allow the voice of the prostitute to be heard uncritically for the first time. I didn't want to make it a difficult. alienating read for the very people I wanted to reach. ()ther books can fill in the gaps.’ Prostitutes have reacted with respect. ‘They‘ve said “You’ve really captured it all. It’s the tnost honest and true book we've read on the subject".'
In the course of her research of the many facets of the trade. Taylor became a voyeur. witnessing. among the whipping stools of Amber the dominatrix‘s torture chamber ‘the darkest side ofprostitution. The
John Downing's photo of prostitutes from ‘Glasgow: 24 Hours In The Life Of A City'
arena where hatred. violence. greed and shame are all mixed up with the pleasure ofgratification. I found myselfgasping with the sadness of it.‘ she writes. unable to conclude whether such depravity has a cathartic function or not. It is hard. then. to accept her assertion that a visit to a prostitute is soul-restoring in much the satne way as a visit to the gym.
But.a touching account is given by prostitutes ofthe work they do with paraplegics. who sound refreshingly humane compared to the men who rttn the country and endorse the hypocrisy that makes soliciting. but not the act of prostitution. illegal — and neatly lets the client offthe hook.
While women like Amber are addicted to the buzz of danger. 70 per cent of prostitutes are mothers ard would do something else if they could. A pattern of disaffection emerges in the book which suggests that deep self-loathing is the initial impulse which makes a woman take such a socially deviant cottrse. Most often it stetns from child abttse. Some women claim that prostitution built their self-respect. ‘l’ve kept my integrity and don't have to depend , on anyone.‘ says l’iona. a single parent. For tnany women prostittttion provides an escape route frotn domestic hell. Nevertheless. most long to get off the streets.
And this. at the end ofa book which had the angry. infuriated. saddened and tttesmerised. was the kind of revelation which left tne deeply frustrated at the l estrangement of women. split in confrontation. when there is sit much common ground.
The List 5 — 18 April l‘Nl 81