Author: Zeb Beck
Genre: literary fiction
Year Published: 2023
“Nerdection Must Read”
It’s the early 2000s, back in the day when the internet was fairly new. Gilmore Crowell is an anthropologist that was doing a dissertation about streetwalkers in Tijuana, Mexico. He was doing very well until he stopped visiting the city in question, which led to his best sources drying up and not having enough knowledge to develop his writing.
Time passes by, and he starts teaching at a juvenile detention center. With this new income, he decides to travel back to Tijuana and understands that considering that prostitution is legal in that city, he can come up with a way for them to promote their services and they can give him the information that he craves.
This is the plot of The Melancholy Strumpet Master.
My take on The Melancholy Strumpet Master
I think the first thing that needs to be highlighted about Zeb Beck’s The Melancholy Strumpet Master is how original the premise is. I mean, at this point, you think everything has been done and then you see this idea and you realize that there are still ways to push the envelope. Sure, the internet, prostitution, and Tijuana have been used to death in storytelling, but all of them combined… I honestly think that is a first.
Be that as it may, you cannot rely solely on a great premise and, thankfully, The Melancholy Strumpet Master doesn’t do that. The book is very well-written and it is mainly due to the fact that Beck knows how insane this premise is and plays around with it, offering characters that are both realistic and over the top. It makes the experience of reading this book all the more enjoyable.
It is also a very accessible book. The narrative skills that the author implements are straightforward and clear, with the story being the main focus. It is also not that long (about 280 pages long), which you can probably finish in one weekend if you put your mind to it.
Comedy is a big deal here and it is implemented well. A big problem that a lot of writers tend to struggle with is humor –they usually rely on overused tropes or fail to grasp the sensitivities of the genre. Beck, thankfully, knows what’s up and uses humor in a way that makes the story all the more enjoyable.
Oh, yeah, there are prostitutes here. Lots of them.
Very good read and a book that serves as a nice break from the typical stories that you consume every day.
About The Author Of The Melancholy Strumpet Master
Zeb Beck: Working in the public sector has acquainted him with the marginalized communities featured in this, his first novel. He studied creative writing at UCLA and have worked as a union organizer, homeless advocate, and subsistence-level investor.