I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
An academic and anthropologist works to help shed a light on the lives of Tijuana streetwalkers for his dissertation in author Zen Beck’s “The Melancholy Strumpet Master”.
Will Gilmore Crowell’s humble member cross the line separating academic integrity from disgrace? Only if by doing so it can help others.
Every weekend, Gilmore Crowell crosses the border into Tijuana’s redlight district. He’s not there for sex; he’s there to save his failing academic career.
Gil’s anthropological study of Tijuana streetwalkers had his dissertation advisor cheering him on. But that was years ago, before his best sources up and vanished. Now, with no connection to the sex worker community, his research has stalled and the faculty elders are about to kick him out of the grad program. Plus, he’s broke.
He takes a job teaching at a juvenile detention center. The steady income gives him the means to keep making his weekly trips across the border. Now he’s paying the girls to speak with him. In a sudden moment of insight, he realizes that giving them something besides cold hard cash might help him forge a new inroad to the community. But do they want what he’s offering?
This is a marvelous and thoughtful approach to dark humor. The author found a balance between the academic side of the narrative and the humorous side with the protagonist’s interactions with his colleagues and the street workers he interacts with. The setting took on a life of its own, not only with the back and forth over the border that the protagonist took part in, but the era of 2002, with some great references and language that made the reader feel transported back to that time period.
The heart of the narrative rested in the powerful themes and hilarious dialogue between the characters. The duality of the character Gil will stay with readers long after the book finishes, as the author does a wonderful job of highlighting the pressures of academia and the hardships of tough work environments with the added pressure of studying the life of Hispanic street workers and the shady realities that plague those in the field, and the humorous situations that arise as a result of those two worlds colliding. Readers see this early on, as a rough night for Gil results in an early collision with LAPD officers and a neighbor willing to go to extreme lengths to get him out of trouble.
Memorable, hilarious, yet poignant and well-written, author Zeb Beck’s “The Melancholy Strumpet Master” is a must-read dark comedy. The theme of class systems clashing with one another and the humorous dialogue that brings Gil’s hardships and struggles to a head in this book will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Zeb Beck lives in Los Angeles with his lovely wife and difficult pets. He likes and dislikes the same things you do.