Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Paying For It

Chester Brown

Paying For It is the first book I've read from Chester Brown, and is described as "a comic-strip memoir about being a john."  This graphic novel comes with an introduction from R. Crumb and extensive appendices and notes.  This book, about paying for sex, follows Chester Brown's experiences in the world of prostitution.  I was kind of surprised to find that it was less autobiographical than I'd expected.  Even though it does follow Brown through his own experiences as a john, it's more a commentary on prostitution itself.  He doesn't necessarily glorify it, but dissects it through his experiences, and puts forth some pretty compelling arguments on why it shouldn't be illegal.  He also questions the ideas of love and how society views marriage and monogamy, and it's really interesting stuff that he brings up.  He also humanizes the prostitutes, as he sits and chats with them before or after sex, and through this book, we get to hear their stories, and kind of understand why they do what they do.  And Chester Brown doesn't really sugarcoat anything.  He shows us the great experiences he has paying for sex, as well as the awkward and strange.  It's surprising how many stereotypes he shatters, about these women and how escort services operate and pimps and whatnot, and it all remains pretty compelling throughout.  Besides the fact that it was less about Brown than it was a commentary on the prostitution industry, I was also surprised by how this story just wasn't very sexy.  You'd think a book that's pages upon pages about a man who pays to have sex (and illustrates him having said sex) would be sort of erotic, but there are few genuinely sexy moments, and it's more a pretty removed look at how things work, and his personal discoveries of how to navigate this world.  I did have fun reading this title, despite how it turned my expectations upside-down, and I'm looking forward to reading more from the creator.

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