Posts tagged ‘Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play’

February 12, 2012

Steffie Can’t Come out to Play Because She’s Hooking on a Street Corner

I posted a while back that, after years of searching, I found a book I loved as a kid. The book is called Steffie Can’t Come out to Play by Fran Arrick. It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl who runs away from the doldrums of her life in small-town Pennsylvania and winds up in NYC hooking for a smooth-talking pimp named “Favor”. As a kid I was completely engrossed and felt Steffie’s plight. (Who doesn’t want to run away at some point when they’re a tween?)

I’m reading the book now, and as an adult, it reads much differently than it did when I was twelve. It’s kind of disgusting. The girl is fourteen and the things she does for her “Favor” are disturbing. I want to shake her and say, “Are you crazy? The guy wears gold chains and calls you ‘sweet face’ and wants to watch you put on pantyhose!”

But it’s hard to put down. The book is well-written and captures early-80s New York so well: the seedy hangouts, the run-down hotels, the discos, the bad furnishings in Favor’s apartment (“The bedroom had mirrors with black streaks like marble running through them. And there was also a tiny fountain built into the floor that had real water running through it.”) And it completely satisfies my love of anything hooker-related. I’m almost done reading it, but I’m slowing down because I don’t want it to end.

On it says the book “springs from [Fran Arrick’s] concern for the fates each year of thousands of young American runaways.” Let this be a warning to any young girls who want to run away into the arms of a guy who has a fountain in his bedroom.

January 16, 2012

My Towering Pile of To-Reads

This is what my “to read” pile looks like at the start of this year. This is just the starting pile and is in front of the bookshelf that I have of books to read in the upcoming year.

So far, I’m reading the two on the top – A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan.

Last night at the Lobster is a great little book about the closing of a Red Lobster and the people who work in it. I got it as a gift because it takes place in the area I grew up in and at the mall I used to work at. O’Nan does such a fantastic job of capturing that area and that mall parking lot, in particular, that I felt like I was back there, ready to get out of my car and open the store I used to work at. He begins the book with:

Mall traffic on a gray winter’s day, stalled. Midmorning and the streetlights are still on, weakly. Scattered flakes drift down like ash, but for now, the roads are dry. It’s the holidays – a garbage truck stopped at a light has a big wreath wired to its grille, complete with a red velvet bow. The turning lane waits for the green arrow above to blink on, and a line of salted cars takes a left into the mall entrance, splitting as they sniff for parking spots. . . 

The characters who work at this doomed “Lobster” are sympathetic and real. The mood of the book is somber, but enjoyable and I look forward to reading the rest.

A Moveable Feast is a both geographically and atmospherically a world away from the dirty-snow-packed mall parking lot in O’Nan’s book. Every time I pick it up, I’m transported to Hemingway’s Paris, quaint cafes, and Gertrude Stein’s apartment crammed with artwork. The worlds of these two books couldn’t be more different, but they are both filled with engaging characters and wisdom on being human, whether working a shitty mall job or writing in Paris.

After I finish these two, I intend to change worlds again, this time traveling to the ’70s landscape of teen hookers and trashed out pimps in the long lost Steffie Can’t Come out to Play.


January 7, 2012

Teen Book Dream Come True

For years I’ve been searching for a book that I read when I was about twelve. I remember reading it with such smutty gutsto that I never forgot it, except for the title.  The book was about a young girl who runs away from home and winds up in the dirty streets of 1970s New York, pressed under the thumb of a pimp named “Favor”. I couldn’t remember his name then, so all I had to go on when looking for the book in various search engines was “1970s, runaway, hooker, New York.”

Imagine my delight when I recently found it after reading a thread in Amazon called “Lost Teen Books” (or something like that). The title looked vaguealy familiar to me and once I looked it up and saw the book cover, I nearly wept for joy. Seriously.

The book is called Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play by Fran Arrick and the cover is something I can’t believe I ever forgot. Once seeing it, it was like finding an old dress I had worn every day for years and can’t believe I ever forgot owning. The book cover is fantastically cheesy and un-PC. Check out “Flavor”, I mean “Favor”. He’s a pimp with a big pimp hat bedecked with a plume, looking menacingly over fourteen-year-old Steffie who’s wearing nothing but a slinky red dress and feather boa. This book jacket would never fly these days. At least I don’t think it would. Maybe as a parody of some sort.

In any case, the books is now sitting on my night stand just waiting to be read. I just may have to put down A Moveable Feast to pick up Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play.

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