Sasha Martinez's Reviews > 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed

100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed by Melissa Panarello
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Sep 25, 2011

bookshelves: 2011
Read in July, 2011

This book’s narrator is 14 to Fanny Hill’s 15. Both books are confessional, Panarello’s in diary form while Cleland’s is epistolary. Queasiness for your average reader aside and regardless of the time period, both are documentations of a very young woman’s sexual awakening. The similarities, however, stop there.

Mostly because Panarello’s narrator is an out-and-out idiot. [Come on, Main Characters, remember that little talk we had about me needing to respect you?] The shorthand description for this ghastly book: Misery porn, but without the redemption, only a lot of nonsensical suffering and pretentious, call-your-vagina-“Secret”-repeatedly sexual encounters.

Our narrator—I shudder to call her a heroine—becomes aware of her lust, the need to assuage a need within her. And so what does she do? She goes on a series of asinine and preposterous hook-ups, where she’s basically treated like dirt; she’s molested every which way, there’s a repeated demolition of her body and her self—and what does she do? She writes in her dear diary, lamenting her sad fate, only to jump willy-nilly back into the craziness again! And she’s going, Oh, but I feel so wretched and abused, and I am crying golden tears, and my Secret is too, but ooh, when he calls me again, I’ll be sure to meet him sans panties! Use your noggin’, honey, please.

It’s not morality I’m pointing out here. It’s self-respect, it’s common sense. There’s no other explanation for her tendency to indulge in sex that holds no pleasure for her—except that she’s stupid. She refuses to preserve any shred of dignity for herself. And then she curses her fate, and then she proceeds to annihilate herself once again. I am not titillated, I am not enchanted, I am not even aghast that someone so young embarks on so much sex.

I was laughing, okay? Testament to my black heart, I was laughing whenever you referred to your Secret, whenever you went home covered in god-knows-what to brush your hair a hundred times before bed. Okay, so I grimaced when you went on one of your moronically desperate attempts to keep having sex, but, Narrator, I was laughing when you cried.

Better to fall “victim” than to go out looking for ways to fuck yourself up, in this case. Ugh. Hello, Schadenfreude.

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