Review: Sluts and Whores
By Justine Jones
“I only write this kind of stuff, because explaining bores me terribly.” — Emile Cioran
Francis Bacon once said something like: “my painting is not violent, it’s life that is violent.” I think this also rings true for C.E. Hoffman’s debut collection: Sluts and Whores.
In this collection Hoffman intimately explores the humanity of sex workers, and other proudly sexual individuals, with each story questioning outdated stereotypes, merging horror with heartache, and magic with the mundane.
I’ve read a few other reviews for this book however which have stressed how worried they are that this book may be too violent for the general population. (Really? Considering everything we’re living through right now? When life has literally become a game of who can turn into dirt the slowest?)
Personally, I found this book well-written and often quite beautiful. The writing itself is ethereal and crisp, relentless, splenetic and nihilistic, but never devoid of humor (like a stand-up routine at the gates of Hell).
Which is actually a natural urge/expression of most writers: to create a solid differentiation between good and bad. Once clearly discerned, the writer can explore the grey in between, because reveling in the darkness can be both interesting and worthwhile. Beauty can be extracted from our darker compulsions. (Although there is very little grey here. Mostly black transgressive-colored shadows).
Making the book easily likened to that of a cat teasing an injured mouse... it plays with you at first... then ravages you... before finally destroying you. (And I’m grateful at having been destroyed by this book).
I will admit that I didn’t quite know how to read the book at first, so I just let it take me on a ride. It’s raw, straightforward, uncompromising and unapologetic. And it doesn’t just celebrate raw beauty, but illuminates the beauty of raw things, raw people.
Yet I was still left wondering what exactly I was supposed to take away from it. And in fairness, the book is a little meek for my liking in comparison to other books in it’s genre, but nevertheless, there’s no denying that it’s poised to inherit the earth.
Justine Jones is a regular contributor to a A Thin Slice of Anxiety. Her work has been featured in several anthologies over the years and has appeared in several documentary films dealing with gentrification and urbanization. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three sons.