A reissue of the national bestselling novel by JT LeRoy/Laura Albert—published to coincide with the new Jeff Feuerzeig documentary: Author: The JT LeRoy Story, which will have a theatrical release in July 2016.
“A deft and imaginative…novel.”—New York Times Book Review
Sarah never admits that she’s his mother, but the beautiful boy has watched her survive as a “lot lizard”: a prostitute working the West Virginia truck stops. Desperate to win her love, he decides to surpass her as the best and most famous lot lizard ever. With his own leather mini-skirt and a makeup bag that closes with Velcro, the young “Cherry Vanilla” embarks on a journey through the Appalachian wilds, dining on transcendental cuisine, supplicating to the mystical Jackalope, encountering the most terrifying of pimps, walking on water, being venerated as an innocent girl saint—and then being denounced as the devil.
By turns exhilarating and shocking, magical and realistic, Sarah brings urgency, wit, and imagination to an unknown and unforgettable world.
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Sarah is a unique narrative that accesses the most hidden of emotions.
To J.T. LeRoy,
Here are my thoughts on Sarah:
Your protagonist starts out as Cherry Vanilla. In the beginning she is a child probably around 10 or so I would think. She is desperate for affection and has abandonment issues because of Sarah being so inconsistent. She thinks if she becomes more like Sarah she will earn her respect, and maybe Sarah won't keep leaving her. She also craves attention from men because she has no father figure and their touch is the only thing that feels good to her since Sarah has made her slightly emotionally numb. She is a child looking for a magic fix to her life, as we all do when we are children. That's why she runs away to see the Jackalope. Being naive, she gets caught up with Pooh and Le Loup. At first she loves the attention because she craves Le Loup's approval. She slowly starts to realize the walls are closing in on her. She misses home. Her escape attempts leave her abused and mutilated by Le Loup and she becomes "Sam" and is left with Stacey. As Sam, she starts to lose a sense of who she is. She becomes both physically and emotionally numb. She regains hope with Pooh's news that she was in touch with Glad. When Glad doesn't show up right away she reverts back to hopelessness. Finally, Pie and Sundae come to rescue her. Back at the lot, Sarah is gone. Glad tells her she is not the same kind of lizard and the book ends.
As Sam, she learns that as a lot lizard physical touch will not always be pleasurable. She also loses her sense of magic because she sees through it. She is left emotionally scarred. When someone hits bottom and returns to the surface they always see things differently.
On a personal level, I feel like Sarah was an outlet for your own mixed feelings about your mother. Your abandonment issues. You hated yourself for loving your mother even while recognizing she was abusive. You wrote Cherry Vanilla in the voice you would have had as a child. Perhaps the arousal of physical touch confused and scared you when you were taken advantage of by men. Children often feel ashamed they enjoy the sexual arousal even though they realize adults should not be touching them that way. It is very confusing for a child. Gender identity issues are very common for children, especially children of abuse.
I think Sarah was ahead of its time. You are not the antichrist making up stories about pedophiles. You are a woman who went through sexual, emotional, and physical abuse as a child. You wrote in that voice and people freaked out. Perhaps it was too real for them to feel what a sexually abused child feels. They want to keep hiding in their safe little worlds. It's not safe in this world. Might as well let out the truth so you can heal. They will learn about the world eventually. Maybe you and I have just seen too much and want it out of our heads and on paper. By creating something good out of the horrible things you endured, you took some shots at the monster. It is commendable.
Anyway that's what I thought. We have a lot in common. I feel very connected to you through your words and I have been feeling very disconnected lately.