Girlvert: A Porno Memoir: By Oriana Small, 310 pgs. By Jim Woster

Oriana Small’s Girlvert: A Porno Memoir is like a blistering war memoir, with penises instead of bayonets.

And as with the most honest soldier’s memoir, you look forward to finishing it even as you can’t put it down—you hit the halfway point of this 310-page book, and you’ve already read chapters entitled “Double Anal,” “Pissmop,” “Gonorrhea,” “Choked Out,” “Anal Fisting,” “Ass Herpes,” and you think, There’s more? Oh, well, if she can live it, the least I can do is read it.

Harold Pinter said, “Life is beautiful, but the world is hell.” The theme of Girlvert is, “Porn is great, but porn’s men are vile.” (Not that I’d want to spend more than three minutes with the walking id that Small presents as her self-portrait.)

Small loves the exploration and performance that porn offers, but here in the 21st century, the world of porn doesn’t seem a whole lot safer for women than it did when it was underground and run by the Mob—the men in Girlvert range from exploitative to monstrous. And yet Small attempts to be friends with the most (or arguably second-most) evil guy in the book, and that kind of dynamic runs through most of Girlvert.

Small writes in a no-tricks, this-is-what-happened style that’s reminiscent of Bukowski. Girlvert’s prose is effortlessly readable—so readable that you’re amazed that it’s Small’s first book and you wonder what authors she’s read to get to this skill level.

I’m looking at a list of writers featured in The Outlaw Bible of American Literature: Burroughs, Kerouac, Miller, Acker, Spillane, and like that. Maybe Small read these writers and thought, “Outlaw?” I’m going to write the most Outlaw book ever written. And she pretty much did. (I’ve never read de Sade.) –Jim Woster (A Barnacle Book, abarnaclebook.com)