Book: Loose Girl with Author Kerry Cohen
By Kerry Cohen
Book signing: Wednesday, June 11th 7:30 pm at Powell's Books located on 10th and West Burnside.
Despite the rather prurient title, Cohen's memoir is a deeply poignant, desperately sad account of a confused, directionless adolescent girl's free fall into self-abnegation. Growing up affluent in New Jersey in the 1980s and smarting from the recent breakup of her parents, 11-year-old Cohen begins to recognize the power her nubile body has over men. Being wanted becomes her greatest hope; once she and her older sister, Tyler, begin living with her father when her mother decides to attend med school in the Philippines, she latches onto other girls with whom she treks into New York City to bar hop at places like Dorian's Red Hand and pick up older, eager boys. Stunningly, the father is not alarmed by her early-morning absences, but seems to encourage her popularity, buying her clothes and treating her as a grownup. Gradually, hooking up with boys becomes a need, a way to bolster her faltering sense of self-worth. A litany of dreary sex acts follows with young men she doesn't particularly like and who don't like her, regardless of STD scares and a college rape. The painter mother of one of her boyfriends does initiate her into more intellectual pursuits, awakening a redemptive desire to become a writer. Cohen's memoir of a lost childhood is commendably honest and frequently excruciating to read.