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In My Skin

New or Used: 2 copies from $27.00
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 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 talent.
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About the Author

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 book.


What happens when a bright, well-loved young woman gets hooked on heroin and turns to prostitution to keep up her habit? Hopefully, she eventually shakes free, as Australian Holden does, but most likely a lot goes wrong first. In this vivid and riveting account of her own sudden fall and slow recovery, Holden describes the slow pull toward heroin as her friends and her lover are hooked. Mild, almost bored temptation turns into obsession after she gives it a try. As the drug and the life compromises it encourages take over Holden's universe, she loses her job and rarely sees her family and clean friends. Eventually, desperate for cash for the daily fixes for herself and her inept boyfriend, she starts turning tricks on the street. When, one night, a john turns out to be a scout for temps at a brothel, Holden's story turns. The relative stability of the brothel, and the accompanying relationships with sister prostitutes and even some johns, revives Holden's sense of self and self-worth. Throughout, she tells it like it is. Her depictions of the dark realities she lived through are at times graphic, especially in some of the more difficult scenes with johns, but always clear-eyed. She lets the readers see and judge the situation for themselves. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

* In My Skin is the work of a stunningly talented writer who both graces and surpasses her material, subverting popular assumptions about addiction and prostitution while making the extraordinary seem commonplace and the ordinary deeply alluring. The subject matter, fascinating though it is, is secondary. Such are her powers to tap into the universal while telling a cracking good tale, Kate Holden could make the story of a tongue-tied troglodyte thrilling. Guardian * This surprising trajectory, along with its searing intellectual and emotional honesty and the quality of the writing, easily sets In My Skin apart from most other my-substance-abuse-hell memoirs. Independent * Her narrative is unwaveringly honest: she does not gloss over the brutality of some of her clients, but towards others she feels generosity, sympathy, lust and even love. Her writing is fluent, lyrical and inventive. This is a complex, thought-provoking and brilliantly unsettling book. New Statesman * Holden does what writers are supposed to do: challenges herself to examine the pressures that led her to live a life that, to put it kindly, would seem countercultural to most of us. She presents her own and, by extension, women's sexuality less as being victimised by prostitution than as predatory and mercenary, as a career chosen and developed. She frankly describes the euphoria of drugs, of turning five or six tricks a night, and the added pleasure of reckoning the money that she earned. The Times

The elevated, poetic language of Aussie writer Holden's debut memoir vibrates with passion as she tells the story of the small victories and great obstacles she encountered as a heroin addict who turned to prostitution as a way of supporting her habit. The middle-class Holden, a carefree, artistic bohemian who scraped by selling books, is introduced to the drug in her early twenties by her boyfriend in the small Australian town of St. Kilda at a time when the grunge band Nirvana reigned and heroin was at the peak of its glamour. Holden finds the strength to recover through the help of her supportive family and, ironically, through her struggle with the very hardships she finally escapes. Her acutely vivid prose is a revelation, even if the subject matter is not. Recommended for all public libraries. [Holden's draft manuscript of this book won the Judy Duffy Award for literary excellence. Ed.] Elizabeth Brinkley, Granite Falls, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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