"It sounds like an obvious statement when I say that girls don't grow up wanting to be strippers, but you'd be surprised. Most people - civilians that is - seem to think that even in the cradle we were wrapping ourselves around a greasy pole and grinding our hips to Britney Spears....When we get drunk the regrets come out. 'I'm a good girl, really I am,' sighs one. She takes a drag of her cigarette and I think to myself, I'm not a good girl. Not really. Not anymore. But I sure as hell would like to be." With 43 countries, 12 boats, dozens of flights, a fistful of "life experience" behind her and a lot of ambition fueling her dreams, 25-year old Ruth Fowler arrives in New York City. A Brit with a Cambridge degree and a middle-class background, she doesn't think it will be too hard to start a new life. But getting a work visa in post-9/11 U.S.A. proves to be tricky, and to kick-start a writing career, Fowler starts documenting her experiences. She funds her efforts with cash-in-hand jobs and a stint writing for the Village Voice, but it doesn't take long for funds and hope to run out - sending her to the heart of Manhattan's dark underbelly, the strip clubs and "Champagne Rooms" of Times Square. As "Mimi," she has a chance of survival. But when this persona threatens to consume every vestige of Fowler's identity, when her life spirals out of control and her true self remains so deeply buried that it seems impossible to resurrect, relying on "Mimi" seems like the biggest mistake she has ever made. No Man's Land is a shocking, raw account about losing identity - and finding it again.
©2008 Ruth Fowler; (P)2008 Penguin