What Is Prostitute Laundry?
In February of 2014, I began using Tiny Letter's email service to send out accounts of the most preoccupying aspects of my life: the struggles of my primary relationship, my paid and unpaid encounters with other men, my conflicted attitude regarding my body, and more. I chose not to create an archive as I went along, so only those subscribed could read the most recent letter. What resulted was a meditative serial memoir in which each entry stood alone but meant more to those who'd read what came before.
In the months that followed, readership grew from 70 to over 4500. The project has since received attention from outlets like NPR, NYMag, and The Washington Post. The video above features longtime readers describing what the content is like. Here's a sample letter for further reference:
What will the book be like?
These 56 letters constitute over 110,000 words—a respectable amount of reading material. They'll be collected into a durable, friendly-feeling soft cover that, like jeans and white sneakers, will look better with wear. (In other words, you can throw it into your backpack with abandon and not hesitate to carry it with you throughout your day.)
I want this book to have the physical features of my favorite books: to fit comfortably in a single hand, with margins wide enough for succinct notes, made of paper that gives just the right amount underneath a pen or pencil. It won't be a hardback because I think hardbacks, for close reading purposes, are godawful. I'm sorry but that's how I feel.
What are the other rewards?
My earliest personal writing took place on blogs. The most recent blog, which spanned 2009 to 2013, appeared under the URL Nightmare Brunette. The Atlantic once called it "worth a read," a ringing endorsement if there ever was one. You can find some other opinions and descriptions of it here and here. You can see samples of the blog entries here. It's very similar to the Prostitute Laundry letters, albeit written when I was younger, gentler, and more interested in my (sex) work. Altogether, there are over 100 entries making up more than 150,000 words. It's a real book-length book! And if you liked Prostitute Laundry, you will almost certainly enjoy the blog entries too. Bound, this book will resemble PL in terms of being a lovingly crafted paperback.
"The Cord" was my longest and most remarked upon letter. I'd hate to spoil what it contains, but one of the (representative) replies was,"this made me believe in love again." The other person who figures most prominently in the story besides myself happens to be a spectacularly gifted illustrator, so his drawings will sprawl across the pages alongside my text. The end result will be a tender, intimate depiction of two people exploring the start an uncommonly profound connection. Here's an idea of what it will look like:
Huge thanks to: Bijan Stephen, Ethan Chiel, Martha Burzynski, Hayley Anthony, Joe Macaré, Abby Koski, Alana Massey, Marian Bull, Heidi DeRuiter, David Grossman, Natalie Coley, and others for their help with the video!
Risks and challenges
If the project is successful, I am going to work very, very hard to turn around the printing so that many if not all backers will receive their rewards in time for the holiday season. The most time-consuming part—actually writing the books—is already done! Max and I will work on editing and design furiously while your donations are coming in, and put a rush on the resulting order if the project is funded. We'll update you with further details once we're certain the books will be a reality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)