Book Review: A Real Piece of Work

I quite enjoyed A Real Piece of Work up until about the halfway point. Once the redheaded bombshell who painted nude self-portraits was introduced, and objectified so heavily, my red flags went up. Although, for a hard-boiled detective story, the misogynistic commentary was quite light.

Once said redhead was sexually attacked in her art director’s office, that’s what it stopped for me. She was called “slut” and blamed for flirting with everyone and then being surprised someone followed through, even though she claimed she beat the man up because “he wouldn’t stop.” She was immediately doubted, not only by some nameless guy who came into the room and called her a “slut,” but also by the protagonist, Dakota Stevens. In the next scene, right before she seduces Stevens with purple paint all over her body, he asks her to confirm that she “didn’t do anything to provoke it.” The protagonist had no qualms about fucking a murder suspect and a client, btw. Real professional.

I did not read on, so I don’t know where this sits in the overall story arc, but it doesn’t really matter. If she was lying about being attacked and the guy refusing to stop, then it’s perpetuating the myth that women often lie about rape. They don’t to an overwhelming degree. If she was telling the truth, then she was blamed for being flirtatious and asking for it.

“You were lone with the guy in Contessa’s office. What did you *think* was going to happen?”

Because, you know, if a beautiful, flirtatious woman is alone with a man, it must mean she wants to fuck him. Because that’s all they’re good for anyway, right? And if she doesn’t, then it’s her fault for leading him on by having the audacity to be alone in a room with him. If your going to be alone with a man, better be willing to put out or at least have the decency to keep your mouth shut if you don’t want it.


If all that rape apologist and victim-blaming nonsense was in the mouth of the antagonist or one of the bad guys, that would be one thing. But it was in the mouth and the opinions of the protagonist, the good guy. Dakota Sevens. This same good guy took sexual advantage of her, fucking her within the hour after she had experienced the traumatic event of sexual assault and attempted rape. Not okay.

Unfortunately, it is realistic and an accurate portrayal of how virtually everyone responds to a rape and/or sexual assault claim, but I don’t indulge in any art for perpetuating rape culture like that. If they include it, then it must be clear it is an unacceptable behavior and mentality.

And, of course, what man isn’t going to bang a hot red head covered in purple paint with “optimistic breasts” and a ” flat tummy,” regardless whether or not she had just been assaulted. She’s a big girl. Right? She can take care of herself.

I’m really rather disappointed, because up until this point I was quite enjoying this book. I don’t get into many books, and I certainly don’t get into many books fast. This one I did. The writing is excellent, and the story is very well-paced, but I draw the line at rape apologists and victim-blaming.

Needless to say, I didn’t finish the book, nor will I be reading anymore of Chris Orcutt’s work. I still gave it three stars because the author obviously has talent, a strong voice, and a solid storytelling technique, but he would be wise to learn how not to offend survivors, as one in 3 women are rape/sexual assault survivors. I’m one of them.

So, yeah. Good detective story, but…


~ by omgrey on January 22, 2013.

6 Responses to “Book Review: A Real Piece of Work”

  1. Few things are as disappointing as reading the work of a talented author only to find a deeper feeling inside that lets you know to put the book down. There is difference between the times when certain books are simply not to your taste and when to refuse to finish certain books because of discrepancies with your core values and beliefs.

    The worst part is that the majority of society fails to recognize seriously flawed logic. They agree that rape is wrong, but believe a woman’s behavior plays a part is some of the crimes being committed. Don’t give up hope, we as a people are just a lot further away from the potential of where we as a people could be and one day will be. The signs that we have reached that potential are when society truly respects females. The not so funny ironic aspect of it is that the only species whose societies have reached their full social potential are ones that all but do away with the male half. The only times that ants, bees, and wasps tolerate the presence of males is when they are absolutely needed, or in other words strictly for breeding.

    I often wonder if that is the only way for Human civilizations to have communities with populations that live in highly cooperative and harmonious ways.

    • Society, to a large degree, not only thinks a woman is partially to blame, they think she is completely to blame.

      It’s disgusting. It’s offensive. It’s maddening. It’s horrific.

      It allows rapists to continue raping.
      It allows abusers to continue abusing.

  2. most media have the protagonist be misogynists, even when they are women. i wonder what would happen if we encouraged women to press charges against all men who have abused us in any way, as we know men perpetrate psychological and emotional abuse at least 90% of the time. Since that’s not a crime right now, i suggest that as a tactic of war we start charging them with rape. the police would be overrun with complaints, and since 99% of real rapes arent prosecuted anyway, we would stop up the legal s ystem, force most of these men into getting lawyers, and sweating it out for 6mos or so, etc. We all know that going through the legal system is its own punishment for women, so if we lie about it, it wont be so traumatic because we will know it’s OUR tactical weapon in the war.

    • Unfortunately, people already think women do this with the outrageous claims of false accusations.

      The percentage for such is so so so low.

      I could never lie about rape or condone lying about rape, as something that soul-destroying and shattering for life should never be lied about.

      But I agree, something needs to be done.

  3. and i heartily agree that the only thing we should have men around for, is sex. i dont think we need them for procreation if we do artificial insemination. all other times t hey should be kept in cages,unless they have proven they are civilized enough to be let out.

    • Donna, please feel free to write to me and vent about what has happened to you. It sounds as if you’ve endured unspeakable trauma.

      I’m here if you would like to talk. Email me. My email is linked from the About OMGrey page.


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