Some books are meant to be kept in sacred spaces. Some books are so amazing, so wonderful, so full of personal meaning, that they can’t even be kept on an ordinary bookshelf with the others, and need to occupy their own, special place. Some books deserve such honors.
And some books deserve to be kept in the bathroom. Which is exactly where the copy of Candy Girl resided in my apartment when I read it. (I can’t claim responsibility for this placement – the book actually belonged to my roommate, but as far as I’m concerned any book kept next to the toilet is pretty much communal, so I helped myself.)
Don’t get me wrong: the fact that Diablo Cody’s memoir (I use the word only because that is how it’s described on the front cover) is perfect bathroom reading isn’t necessarily a criticism. Candy Girl is, in fact, probably the most perfect example of a bathroom book I’ve ever come across. You can read little bits at a time without having to bother following a continous plot, and if you just skip to all the dirty parts (where Cody is actually stripping or working at a peep show), you never miss anything important. She had a boyfriend at the time the book was written, and he and his young daughter pop into the story every now and then, but frankly any part of the story that didn’t involve stripping and/or frequent uses of the word “pussy” just bored me.
So, to sum up: the book describes a year in which Diablo Cody decides to try being a stripper. She spends several pages trying to rationalize this decision, but it can really be summed up in one sentence: “for shits and giggles, and so I can get a quasi-memoir out of it.” (my words) Over the course of the story, she works at three different strip joints, a peep show, and also has a brief stint as a phone-sex worker that’s so brief I don’t know why she bothered mentioning it at all. In between there’s some stuff about Cody’s boring day job and her home life, but as I said, these parts can be easily skipped. As for the writing itself, I’ll just say that it’s very easy to believe this woman wrote Juno. Which is by no means a critique, but it does make it a bit jarring when Cody manages to produce writing that is actually well-done, maybe even meaningful. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes happens when she’s working at a peep show, and a client asks her to hit him and insult him while he masturbates. She obliges, saying things like “Mommy loves you” right before punching him in the stomach while he cries and jacks off. Cody ends the section by saying, “It sounds funnier than it was.” No, actually that doesn’t sound funny at all, Ms. Cody, and the fact that you think it does demonstrates everything that’s wrong with the tone of this book. (Another misguided gem: the line “I was never molested as a child, probably because I wasn’t very attractive.” facedesk.) Luckily, these bits of attempted deep meaning don’t happen often, and we quickly resume our regularly scheduled program of pop culture references and exclamations of “shazbot!”
Verdict: two out of five stars