Being inherently lazy, it’s seldom I feel compelled to write, well … anything really. Let alone a book review. But Fishnet, the debut novel of Kirstin Innes caused removal of The Cat from my keyboard at just slightly excessive speed.
It’s extraordinarily refreshing to find a writer on sex work actually consulting sex workers. Rarer than hen’s teeth, in fact. Articles on sex work appear on a regular basis which are not only wrong in their suppositions, but erroneous in fact. And that’s very fecking annoying. Innes took the time to really research her subject matter and spoke to several sex workers. I ought to know, I was one of them, over a lunch in one of those posh Glasgow restaurants, with linen napkins and no necessity to nail down the condiments. (I’ll bring the salt and pepper pots back. I’m sorry.)
She’s the first to admit that on her journey to research sex work in Scotland Innes came from the “all sex work is violence against women” angle. But having started to read some of the escort bloggers around, came the realisation that actually, it’s far more complex than that. Like any industry there are many layers and many socio economic groups too. There is also a plethora of reasons why female, male and trans sex workers enter the industry and would you believe it’s not always because a pimp told them to ?
So to the story. Fishnet details one woman’s search for her sister who has disappeared into the sex industry and is proving difficult to trace. The main character, Fiona, is quite a complex creature. Innes takes us on her journey, and it’s quite a trip. Fiona learns a lot about herself and the sex industry along the way, including the world of activism, with sex workers fighting for their rights and the truly dirty tricks we come up against.
In places it’s a very erotic read, but we were all assured at the book launch that the author has never actually masturbated in an office. It wouldn’t bother me, but you know what some people are like. In places this book is harrowing, and brutal. We feel the abject despair of Fiona and will her to succeed. What really fascinated me was how Innes managed to capture the interaction between escort and client and get it so spot on. We’ve all done the regretful doe eyes because he has to leave early for a flight. “Oh darling, I’m missing you already”. If any of my guys are reading this, I am of course, not referring to you. At all.
Fishnet is set to be a massive hit, and it deserves every ounce of that success. I think you should go, buy, read and enjoy it. And if you spot my cat along the way, tweet at me. Thanks.