by Nelly Arcan

A brief, breathless (heavily autobiographical) novelistic account of the life of a young woman who sells her body for a living, Whore is a searing look at the world's oldest profession and a confessional in the tradition of Sylvia Plath or John Berryman. "Cynthia," as the nameless narrator calls herself professionally, is a French-Canadian Catholic from the sticks who escapes her strict upbringing and stifling parents to move to Montreal as soon as she is old enough. One day she answersthead of an escort agency, and quickly becomes compelled by her strange new calling. Visited by men including an Orthodox Jew cheating on his piety, a boorish Muslim with a deformed arm, a neverending parade of businessmen and fathers, and a young man whose youth and fitness disturbs her more than any of the rest of them, "Cynthia" delivers an unyielding, poetic, and deeply personal account of her whore's life.

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