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American Gangbang: A Love Story by Sam Benjamin

Monday, October 10, 2011
A thoughtful, hilarious, and compulsively readable memoir by an Ivy League graduate-turned-pornographer who sets out to bring sophistication and equality to sexual cinema—only to find that he can’t change porn, but porn can certainly change him.
American Gangbang heralds the arrival of a profound and gifted new voice in narrative nonfiction. In 1999, after four years of studying at Brown University, Sam Benjamin heads to California in a twenty-year-old Volvo, dead set on turning himself into an artist, despite his complete lack of talent. There, stoned, he has an epiphany—he will make progressive porn. And so begins his turbulent journey. . . .
In whip-smart, lyrical prose, Benjamin traces his three-year immersion into the world of Hollywood’s bleak, screen glow–lit doppelganger: the southern California sex industry. His rapid ascent from the dingy storefront rental of a starving artist to the multimillion-dollar Malibu villa of a full-fledged porn producer confronts him with the uncomfortably alluring realities of America's strangest industry: gun-toting actors, high on terrible, drug-induced potency; giggling actresses battling internal demons in wobbly heels and pink fishnets; the insatiable consumer demands to sink ever lower, more exploitative, nastier. The result is the titillating, dramatic chronicle of a young man who invites the deepest, most troubling parts of himself to rise to the surface in order to get a good look at them—only to find that what he sees makes his world seem suddenly very small.
A provocative, universal coming-of-age story, American Gangbang explores with unflinching honesty the darkly rich junction of sex and self-discovery.

Goodreads Summary

The first quality of this book that stuck out to me would be the brutal honesty.  When I say brutal, I mean brutal.  The author holds nothing back...sometimes the reader wants to reach in and stop him from talking and other times the reader will avidly wait for the author's next thoughts and actions. 

The author goes from an Ivy League college graduate to a pornographer...by choice.  It was an interesting, but surprisingly well-thought out decision.  He goes on to get deeper and deeper into porn, one might say he obsesses about a couple of things.  The weird quality of this book would be the odd feeling of alienation and an overall feeling of almost being in a dream-where you don't care about your own actions.  The reader can almost see how many of the events in the book could take place without anyone stepping in and saying "enough." 

This book actually held my attention the whole time.  The plot is, of course, a tad dramatic and unusual; however, the author tells his story so realistically and candidly.  The events are fast-paced, the reader doesn't dwell overly much on some of the more odd events in the memoir.  The ending is interesting, ends with one heck of a good analogy.  This book is recommended to adults.

3 1/2 Stars

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