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You Should Read: Natoma Street by J.T. Leroy

February 17, 2010

You Should Read is a new weekly Wednesday short where I suggest short stories and poems on the web to bide a little time on this dreadful–when will Friday come?–24hrs in the middle of the week.

Famous for publishing Sarah, a novel about 12-year-old boy called Cherry Vanilla who aspires to be a prostitute, and personally vetted by the likes of Mary Gaitskill, Tobias Wolff and Bruce Benderson, Natoma Street is one of J.T. Leroy’s first stories, published when she was FIFTEEN on Nerve. She originally started writing under the pen name Terminator before commonly using J.T. Leroy. And I’m not sure if this is good or not, but reading the story, I didn’t guess it was written by a girl. Anyhow the story is…great. A great read if the author were thirty, but she’s half that age, handling a subject manner that most adults couldn’t tackle. In this story her protagonist, a fifteen-year-old boy, pays for a male prostitute, as flashbacks of being abused by his mother flit through his mind. Woah!

First Lines: “It’s like I’m pushed from behind, pulled down the slope of Natoma Street like it’s a ramp down into another world. All the buildings are low and tight, huddled around me. Heavy-gated sweatshops, sunken-down tenements, windows filled with dusty laughing Santas and graying fake snow, ancient slaughterhouses with rusted metal beams jutting suddenly out above me. “

Reading Time: 5-7min

Level of Enjoyment: Shiver up your spine. Combined unease and visceral satisfaction.

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