Rating: 3.75* of fiveThe Book Description: Rick Whitaker divulges the complex reasons that drove him to prostitution and reflects on the cost of a life of half-truths and emotional lies. With an unsentimental eye, Whitaker chronicles his descent and eventual resolution.My Review: That's a pretty sparse description for a pretty intense book. It's a short thing, pared down to its essential points, and purged of prurient detail. (Darn it.)Whitaker was the editorial assistant to publishing legend Gordon Lish. You know, Raymond Carver? Richard Ford? The one who edited, or quite possibly more than edited, their best stuff. He was, apparently, absorbing a lot from Lish (not a double entendre that I know of) because he wastes no words here describing his descent from broke publishing minion to crack-addled sex worker AND broke publishing minion.It's amazingly easy to understand and sympathize with Whitaker. He's not some rotten-souled vile being who expresses himself by Doing Shocking Things. He's a guy who needs a center to his life, needs a sense of belonging and of mattering. I speak from experience here: If one needs those things, NEW YORK IS NOT THE PLACE TO LIVE. I watched it eat people alive, make others miserable, and all because the one thing those folks needed was the one thing the city does not reward.Whitaker sold access to his body for drug money, for the momentary illusion of power, and for the sheer hell of it. He ended up not wanting what he found, and got out, and told his story so all the experience would not go to waste.I like the book, where lots didn't much. I respect sex workers for the sheer magnitude of their performance capability. I admire their generosity of spirit (how many pretty people do you imagine subcontract their sex lives? Lots of old, lonely, ugly, fat folks do). I've had some very good friends (without benefits, thank you for asking) who did this demanding and difficult job. Whitaker's was a story I've heard with variations for years. It's not something I'd suggest one read for titillation, but any moralists who have accidentally stumbled into reading my reviews (you must feel so lost, poor lambs) should give it a whirl, as should those inclined to judge and find wanting all those billions and billions of people not precisely like themselves. (There is overlap in the categories, but they aren't all the same people.)Empathy can be learned. Try this and see if you can't find some for a man searching for acceptance.