- Paperback: 171 pages
- Publisher: Ecco Pr (3 July 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062699857
- ISBN-13: 978-0062699855
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 154 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls Paperback – Deckle Edge, 3 Jul 2018
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From the Back Cover
In this darkly comic and surreal collection from celebrated author Alissa Nutting, misfit women scramble for agency in a series of uncanny circumstances: A space cargo deliverywoman enlists the help of her cybersex partner to release her mother from cryogenic prison. Desperate for affection and a more lavish lifestyle, a young woman falls under the corrosive spell of the fashion model for whom she’s given up everything to assist. A woman submits to a procedure that will turn her body into a futuristic ant farm, only to discover the sinister plans of her doctor.
Though the settings these women find themselves in are as shocking and unique as they come, the emotional battles they face are searing and real. Some are trying to fight their way out of the cycle of abuse, while others must cope with the anguish brought on by infertility or the aftershocks of an abortion. Still others confront and embrace their most depraved desires, carving out power for themselves in worlds that relentlessly ask for conformity.
Wickedly funny yet ringing with deep truths about gender, authority, and the ways we inhabit and restrict the female body, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls is a brilliant commentary on the kaleidoscope of human behavior and a remarkably nuanced satire for our times.
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There are eighteen stories in this collection, all told by a first-person female narrator, whom I believe is always nameless (except in "Bandleader's Girlfriend", although she doesn't go by Claudia anymore, she goes by "Sorcerella van Crystal")
Here are just a few of the story concepts:
A woman and four men are boiled alive for dinner, and have one last conversation before they die.
A woman kidnaps a panda from a zoo.
A woman has holes drilled into her bones so that she can host an ant colony inside her body.
A woman buys her mother's cryogenically frozen body at auction.
A woman falls in love with the devil.
A woman falls in love with a garden gnome.
A woman in a rat costume wants to have children.
A woman, who was born a man, gets blackmailed by her pimp.
And that's less than half of them!
There are true masterpieces in here. I will think of "Ant Colony", "Hellion", "She-Man", and "Porn Star" for years. Years. Together, these stories run the gamut from horror, manipulation, romance, love, tragedy, fear, shame, ennui, and disgust, although if you tried to match those themes and feelings to the stories based on title alone, you'd probably be completely wrong. "Hellion", in which a woman with acid-spewing boobs (like Fem-bots have bred with Alien) falls in love with Satan might just be one of the most romantic stories I've read. Seriously. I love it.
The ones I mentioned are all longer stories that can be read again and again and really dug into... although I'm not sure if I want to go deeper into "Ant Colony" than I already have. Sometimes I feel like I have ants inside me...
Not all the stories are lengthy. Some of the stories are only a few pages long. It takes three minutes to read "Zookeeper" but, man, that story sticks with you for days.
Some favorite quotes, in no particular order:
"Whatever you do," I thought, "don't pee inside the devil."
I'll go home and wait for her to call me and turn me into something special for however long she wants, and this time I won't forget to be grateful.
Feeling cold after being hot for so long hurt somewhat. It made me realize that it probably was painful to breathe for the first time when I was born.
The sad thing is, everybody is always somebody, even when he's nobody. And I used to be a nobody's somebody.
"There is no purpose. Purpose is a concept someone made up to feel better about how weird everything is."
"That's the thing about symbols. They mean different things to different people."
Not all the stories are laugh-out-loud funny, but there is a constant thread of humor in each narrator's obsession with the banal details of everyday life that serve to contrast with the terrible things that are going on. One of the characters is trapped in Hell for all eternity, and finds the place mildly annoying, what with the lava pools and the acid she occasionally shoots out of her breasts when she gets angry. It's really quite the trial.
If you like dark, dark humor and strange, elliptical stories that are more like fever dreams than slices of real life, then this book is for you.
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