(pb; 2001: non-fiction)
From the back cover:
“It begins with an amazing revelation: Not a single legal prostitute in Nevada has contracted HIV since testing began in 1986. Why? Harvard medical student Alexa Albert traveled to Nevada in search of answers. Gaining unprecedented access to the world where the women share their experiences with unexpected candor. There’s Dinah, Mustang’s oldest prostitute, who turned her first trick at age fifty-one. And Savannah, a woman who views her work as a ‘healing’ social service for needy men.
“Nevada’s legal brothels are an incredibly rich environment for examining some of this nation’s thorniest issues. From problems of class and race to the meaning of family, honor and justice – all are found within this complex and singular microcosm. And in a country where prejudice is a dirty word – but not as dirty as hooker – these social issues are compounded and deepened by the stifling stigma that has always plagued the profession. But in the end, all of Mustang’s working girls are just women trying to earn their way to happiness…”
Albert’s writing is dissertation-dry, lacking the flare of more artistic-minded authors, but given her thematic slant and subject, it fits. Her journalistic language lends a veracity to the tales she tells about Nevada’s history, the lives of the brothel owners and their workers.
Albert occasionally asks provocative questions, spiking this otherwise light, sometimes sad read. Good book: solid, informative and entertaining, in an unpretentious way.