I mentioned Femsplainer before, and the ad that Eve Littlepage put out looking for honest reviews of Celestial Bodies in Orbit: Memoirs of the Unknown Stripper. I read my emails everyday, especially Femsplain’s, so I was quick to jump at the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of this book!
I’ve repeatedly mentioned my love of memoirs, but I don’t think that I’ve delved into my vast respect for sex workers. (Yes, I’m pro-sex work all the way through, of course excluding children and only on the condition that the adults who enter the industry do so willingly. I’m for the legalization and regulation of prostitution as well as a safer industry for all.) I have next to no experience with stripping first hand, but I absolutely love Lux Atl and keep up with her amazing work on social media. She even has her own podcast, Stripcast: True Stories from a Stripper with a PhD by Lux ATL on iTunes, which I definitely need to catch up on.
On to the book!
TW: abuse, abortion, drug use, harassment, suicide.
In the Author’s Notes, Littlepage (her pen name) mentions Paganism and Witchcraft (which she chooses to capitalize, as I have here). Though she doesn’t dive into that subject matter until Chapter 19, I was excited to hear her experiences. From the start I knew I was getting into a very unique book. It’s written in interview style, and though names are changed, it is a true story (told to a fictional author).
I did not enjoy the format as much as I’d hoped; the fictitious interview style was less personal than the traditional memoir style, it took something away from the book instead of adding to it. The format also made the reading a bit less immersive; instead of becoming wrapped up in the story, I was pulled out by the water breaks and other interview pauses that were written in. The dialogue between chunks of story is also very awkward, and doesn’t have the flow of natural conversation. Stella, as a character, doesn’t have enough personality to hold up well with Eve’s.
I didn’t love the format, but I was able to look past it the farther into the book I got.
Though I didn’t enjoy the style itself, I do see how writing a memoir this way could create a bit of a separation from the act of letting it all out. It’s quite a scary thing, putting your writing out there, and even scarier when it’s about your life. I suppose that treating this like an interview could have allowed for some space from the story.
Another thing that didn’t flow well for me was the overuse of similes (the comparison of two things using like or as, i.e. “Stung like the lash of a whip” p. 15) in Littlepage’s writing. They work in some cases, but it almost feels like there’s one in every paragraph. Figurative language is nice, but it can weaken writing when it’s overused.
I think that I would have liked the book a great deal more if it weren’t for the style it was written in. As I said before, it kept the book from being as immersive and personal as I would have liked. The faux interviews and fictitious interactions between Eve and Stella were just that, and they cheapened the writing.
Probably my favorite little element of the book was the point in which Littlepage incorporates notes and poems from old lovers and club regulars; the concept of small gifts and notes being given to strippers wasn’t something I’d considered, and it was precious.
I did truly enjoy the subject matter. You get to see a lot through Littlepage’s eyes, including but not limited to the strip club and party scene of the 70-80’s. Her experiences were a cornucopia of emotion, and it was truly a book that encompassed a good bit of her story, stripping being just a part of it.
I am officially halfway to my goal, and we’re just about halfway through the year! According to Goodreads I’m two books ahead of schedule!
Anyway, I’m feeling pretty pumped about my progress so far. Keep reading to stay up to date and to find out what reading materials I’ve enjoyed so far.
I give this book a 6/10.
Disclaimer: I’ll be posting a shortened version of this review on Amazon.com and Goodreads, as I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. I want to be transparent with my readers, as well as with readers who are interested in this book on those platforms.