John O'Brien's books have established him as a writer who communicated the voice of the loner with blistering realness and unmistakable force. Stripper Lessons is perhaps O'Brien's most interior and intense novel, a powerful story of one man's obsessive search to belong.
"This posthumously released novel by the late O'Brien, author of Leaving Las Vegas, is an introspective and surprisingly compassionate study of a loner, Carroll. He is middle aged, unmarried, and friendless. His job as a file clerk is a series of humiliations large and small. His life, such as it is, centers on Indiscretions, a strip joint. Although the surroundings are seedy, Carroll goes there nightly with the rather benign expectation that one of the waitresses or strippers will share a real conversation with him. He eventually meets Stevie, a new dancer--and she actually talks to him! He falls for her right then and there. Discarding his protective emotional shell, Carroll shares his fears, ideas, and hopes with her. But he has picked someone with a very limited interest in him, and, as this point begins to come home, Carroll wonders if life wasn't better inside that shell after all. A sensitive and understated novel." (Booklist)
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