Review: Sarah by JT LeRoy

An odd little book at just 166 pages (and I’m guessing not quite 50,000 words), Sarah tells the story of a 12 year old boy, whose names are numerous, and his one desire to become a world-famous ‘lot lizard’ (or whore, to you and I). He idolises his mother and in an attempt to become just like her, he dons leather mini-skirts and stiletto heels, he grows his hair into long, golden locks and he walks the truck yard looking for ‘tricks’. Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before She-Ra/Sarah/Sam/Cherry Vanilla gets himself into a spot of bother, in the form of rival pimp Le Loup.

It’s certainly a quick read, consumable in just one or two bite-sized bits. Although classed as a novella, it is very similar to a short story in its make up and that adds a certain amount of charm. It’s an enjoyable read with a moral (greed is bad, appreciate what you’ve got) but with little emotional pull or investment. Whilst I was charmed and entertained by the story, I did not feel anything for any of the characters and I did not experience that desperate ‘what happens next’ anticipation that I so often long for. Perhaps this lack of feeling or coldness that I got from the book was down to its very formulaic structure – introduction to a protagonist with a bit of background information, a dilemma and a solution. In that order. With no deviations or side stories. Straight-laced, in an oddly kinky and outrageously filthy kind of way

Of course, this little tale being nicely boxed with a pretty bow to tie it all up at the end does not necessarily make it bad. Had it been stretched into a full-length novel, the lack of emotive content would have killed Sarah off before it could be properly enjoyed but as the snapshot of a life unknown (unknown to me, anyhow), the story becomes fully enjoyable. The characters, if not invest-able then were at least likeable (or dislikeable, as the case may be – Le Loup, Stacey, Lyman) and amusing. The sarcastic wit that was banded about between the lizards and the sort of happiness marred by tragic acceptance that seems to embrace Sundae, Pie and even Pooh nearer the end reminded me of the wonderful ladies in Pricilla, Queen of the Desert and it was certainly equally comical. It’s damn near impossible not to guffaw at lines like “[t]hat man is slicker than cum on gold teeth” or the portrait that is painted of the many cross-dressing truckers.

I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, the humour and (attempt at) shock value being an acquired taste (and boy, it’s a taste I acquired many years ago now). It’s also not a book that I imagine remembering many years down the line. It is, however, short, sweet (in a tragic and slightly disturbing kind of way) and entertaining – perfect for a Sunday afternoon on the couch or a beach holiday. Why not give it a go? You never know, you might discover something you never knew you enjoyed – fist-kiss anyone? 😉

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