Come (Rita Therese, A&U)
Twenty-five-year-old sex worker Rita Therese’s debut memoir is dark, funny and extremely candid—but her unsanitised tales of the sex industry are not for the faint-hearted. Come invites the reader into Therese’s working life and to a lesser degree her complicated personal life. Moving backwards and forwards in time, the book comprises disparate scenes from Therese’s career interspersed with present-day reflections on trauma, relationships and family, told in a frank, conversational style. The memoir deals with dark topics, including drug abuse, rape and suicide, but Therese is sceptical about the potential of writing to heal trauma, which might account for the inconclusive nature of these reflective episodes. The sometimes-disorienting shifts between tense and point of view mirror Therese’s struggle to reconcile her multiple selves: sex worker, girlfriend, daughter, sister, artist. The writing is stronger in the sections that involve her distinctive transgressive humour compared to the parts that require more emotional vulnerability, and it feels more discomfiting and voyeuristic to look in on Therese’s trauma than it does to read her graphic, tongue-in-cheek advice on ‘whore beauty’—including tips on how to deal with haemorrhoids and thrush. Ultimately, it’s this humour, among other things, that has allowed Therese to embrace her identity and live her life proudly on the margins of mainstream society. This self-aware and compelling memoir is for open-minded readers interested in subversive stories about social outsiders such as The Trauma Cleaner.
Kelsey Oldham is an editor at Books+Publishing