In My Skin

In My Skin : A Memoir

3.78 (3,216 ratings by Goodreads)
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"I watched the glaze of headlights, the windscreens of oncoming cars: a series of trapezoids with the silhouette of a single male driver. One pulled up in front of me; I reached over and opened the door, slid in. The smell of an unfamiliar car. A middle-aged man looking at me. 'Hi,' I said. 'How are you?' Kate Holden is accustomed to being summed up at a glance: arts graduate, history buff, middle-class daughter, dreamer, innocent. But she is a young woman who understands better than most the secrets that people keep hidden. "In My Skin" follows her journey from her reputation as a 'good girl' in the safe and leafy suburbs of Melbourne, to the all-consuming attractions of heroin and the sex industry. This is a story of survival and resourcefulness; an unflinching look at the consequences of addiction. Holden's journey leads her from a sheltered life in her loving family home to a world of sex for money - a seedy netherworld of back lanes, backseats and brothels. More than just a fearless and compelling narrative, "In My Skin" is a triumphant announcement of a major new literary more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 136 x 208 x 24mm | 322.06g
  • Canongate Books Ltd
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • 1841957917
  • 9781841957913
  • 2,392,461

Review Text

A startling debut memoir about sex, work and smack.A bookish, piano-playing homebody, Holden grew up middle-class in Melbourne, Australia. At college, her heart was broken, and she discovered alcohol. She began reading (and dressing like) Anais Nin. She lived in a trendy neighborhood, partied all the time and eventually tried heroin. Soon, her life narrowed to three activities: getting money for smack, scoring and shooting up. To finance her addiction, she stole money from the bookstore where she'd worked for years; after getting sacked, she began turning tricks, first on the street and then in a series of high-class brothels, which are legal in Australia. After only a few months, Holden grew accustomed to using a pseudonym and having sex with eight men a night. The work was degrading, but it had some glamorous aspects, ranging from velvet dresses to the sensation of being "beautiful and desirable." She felt genuine affection for some of her clients, though she had the sense (most of the time) not to see them outside the brothel. Eventually, thanks to her mother and to methadone, she got clean and left the sex trade. Holden's prose is subtle and elegant. She has a knack for unusual, revealing phrases, like "baffled by weariness" or "the organized hauteur of the true professional." If memoirists must make a choice between simply recreating the past and editorializing about it, this writer chooses the former. Her descriptions of the brothels are vivid, but there is something disconcerting about her almost total refusal to interpret her years as a prostitute. Early on, she acknowledges the debate about whether sex work exploits or empowers women, bur she never weighs in explicitly on either side. Too bad, since an analysis based on firsthand experience would be worth any number of distanced women's-studies treatises.Beautiful and discomfiting: The words sing, but the singer never reveals her innermost thoughts. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Kate Holden

KATE HOLDEN was born in Melbourne in 1972. She completed an honours degree in classics and literature at the University of Melbourne and a graduate diploma in professional writing and editing. In My Skin is her first more

Rating details

3,216 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 26% (834)
4 38% (1,235)
3 26% (830)
2 8% (252)
1 2% (65)
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