Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fits and Swabs

In My Skin: A Memoir
by Kate Holden

Genre; Autobiography/Australian
Publisher; Text Publishing/Australia/2007
Pages; 304
ISBN; 9781921351075

Plot; In My Skin is an in depth look into the life of heroin addict, Kate Holden.

Once a smart young woman, with nothing but promise, Kate makes the disastrous mistake of trying heroin while with a bunch of friends.

Finding herself in the quagmire of addiction, Kate does whatever she has to do to get her hands on the small, plastic bags of white powder. Even if that means jumping in the cars of strangers and parking in back alleys to earn money.

My Thoughts; I am really torn with this book. I want to like it because of the amazing journey this woman gets herself through, but the way the story is told makes it hard for me to like it.

There is no mistaking that this is a gritty and deep journey into the otherwise hidden world of heroin. There is also no mistaking how hard this journey is for Holden and how brave she is for getting through it. I just found the reading slow and tedious.

For me, this book was really repetitive. From one dirty apartment full of syringes, or "fits", to the next. Or from one brothel full of scantily clad women, to the next. Even the repetitive visual of Holden in the back seat of some car, with some "John". I understand that this is what the story is about, this is what her life was like for those years, but I just found that as it went on it became less and less confrontational and more and more monotonous.

While the point of books like these is to tell the story of some brave soul, it is not also the point to scare others away from taking the same path? I just found that after a while it was hard to care so much. At first I kept thinking, "oh no, this poor women, I couldn't imagine", but after a while I thought, "next!" as I flipped through page after page, handjob after handjob, arm scab after arm scab.

I think I would have liked to have read more about pre-heroin Holden. I think If there had been a more in depth look into her life before the drugs and prostitution, it would have made for a much more contrasted downfall, which would have made for a more emotive and affective read.

What I do praise Holden for is her unflinching honesty. Not only about what she did in those years, but how she felt as she did it. To talk so openly about such a tormented journey takes courage and conviction, from which Holden does not fall shy.

The writing itself is quite relaxed and easily read. It is descriptive enough to tell the story, without being so descriptive it is obscene or offensive.

This is not a book for everyone. If you are prudish when it comes to sex, don't pick this book up. If you are prudish when it comes to drugs, don't pick this book up. If you want a look into the nighttime world of heroin and the way it effects its victims, this may be worth the read.

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. I've got to say it. I don't think I'll be reading this one. It's hard for me to like a story just because, well, "it's really like that." I do need a decent arc, and it helps if it's not too much like Requiem for a Dream. Tell me if I'm totally off.