25 Points: what purpose did i serve in your life

mcpurp9780985023584_p0_v2_s260x420what purpose did i serve in your life
by Marie Calloway
Tyrant Books, 2013
200 pages / $19.00 buy from Amazon or SPD







1. The film The Hurt Locker opens with the quote “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”

2. Marie Calloway’s novel what purpose did i serve in your life opens with the quote “We teach children not to go into stranger’s houses, so why do it as an adult?”

3. The film The Hurt Locker is divided into a number of distinct scenes showcasing Sergeant First Class William James’ deactivating various bombs in intense, maverick ways. The viewer is left with the post-suspense of the diffusal, the slowing of blood-pressure lets one reflect on war as the hazmat is removed.

4. Marie Calloway’s what purpose did i serve in your life is divided into a number of distinct reflections each culminating in some kind of sex which she somehow coordinates in an often intense, maverick-y way. When being degraded, she posits that she deserves it. She states she feels relief and confusion in making herself an object.

5. The movie The Hurt Locker portrays James’ fearlessness in the face of danger and ends with his inability to escape the very thing that is destroying him.

6. Marie Calloway’s novel portrays a young woman moving through life after vaguely mentioned past traumas. She is a rape victim and this shapes her sexual actions and reactions. Though often being grossed-out or averse to a range of sexual suggestions (from being eaten-out to force-fed her own vomit) Calloway’s actions are that of a compliant, non-confrontational lover.

7. In 2011, Gawker called Marie ‘just a girl, with a Tumblr’.

8. In the Jeremy Lin chapter of the book, Lin points out:

“If someone says your writing has flaws or is good, that implies they know a concrete goal that your writing has, which can be measured in numbers, and that the number would be higher or lower if you changed your writing in a certain way, I feel, by that seems incredibly hard to measure, even if two different people had agreed upon a purpose for your writing that could be measured, like ‘increases heart rate in reader’ or something. But it can be depressing to never think in terms of ‘good’/’bad’ without defining contexts/goals in each instance.”

9. A staff member of the Paris Review once told William S. Burroughs that sex seems frequently equated with death in his writing. Burroughs responded:

“That is an extension of the idea of sex as a biologic weapon. I feel that sex, like practically every other human manifestation, has been degraded for control purposes, or really for antihuman purposes. This whole Puritanism. How are we ever going to find out anything about sex scientifically, when a priori the subject cannot even be investigated? It can’t even be thought about or written about. That was one of the interesting things about Reich. He was one of the few people who ever tried to investigate sex—sexual phenomena, from a scientific point of view. There’s this prurience and this fear of sex. We know nothing about sex. What is it? Why is it pleasurable? What is pleasure? Relief from tension? Well, possibly.”

10 a.  “If you like me, you have to like shyness.”

b.   “I’m smart at some things but not with people or at growing up.”

11. To break the text of each scenario, Calloway’s novel contains a number of image macros ripped from her publicly shared gdoc diaries. These contain facebook chats, criticisms pasted over nudes of herself, and cyber-sex re-pastes. When reading, one may feel like part of a wound gaping about Calloway’s body.

12. Calloway’s novel explores and exposes well known establishments within the New York literary scene. One with intimate knowledge of Tao Lin, the New Inquiry, Thought Catalog, HTMLGIANT, and MuuMuu House will feel comforted and unsurprised. Someone from the outside may feel confused or disoriented as these establishments are important to a small fraction of people.

13. The Hurt Locker’s opening quote comes from a book called War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.

14. Sex is the only thing that provides meaning.

15. On March 10th Marie Calloway posted this on her tumblr:

“To Penelope, men were conquests, attributes, but they were also enemies; they belonged to the species that must never be granted more than the amount of time and attention she considered they deserved. Her tone with such men was flirtatious, mocking, never serious; she spread about her a propaganda of rapid affairs, rapidly consummated, with a laughing lack of commitment on both sides. She seemed to take a pride in in the steady succession of names. She was, Edith saw, accomplished in venery…She considered men to be a contemptible sex, and her eyes would sparkle when she recounted tales of conquest. ‘That dreadful little man,’ she would say dismissively, of someone who did not know the rules of her game.” -?

The quote is from Hotel du Lac, a Booker-Award winning novel by Anita Brookner.

16. To Marie, men are opportunities, answers, but they are also dangerous; they belong to the species that is given the utmost care and consideration and critique in the form of internalization. Her tone with men is perverse, subjective, uncertain in severity; she spreads about her online articles of city affairs, rapidly consummates, with a curiosity for commitment on all ends. She seems to take pride in the retrospect of domination. She is, we see, accomplished in venery… She considers men to be a ‘something to fuck wit, and her mind recounts with feminist clarity her tales, conquest of the conquested. ‘I liked the taste of his semen,’ she would mewl innocently, of someone whose dick came bundled in pale grey undies. -me.

17 a. If you search ‘marie calloway’ on Tumblr, you will eventually come to a .jpg of Marie squat on all fours beside a stack of books, wholly nude, staring up at the photographer with hand outstretched offering her a handful of raspberries.

b. “I’ve never figured out why i get off being used as an object.”


18. In her novel, Marie fails to sleep with Tao Lin and instead launches a pseudo-rebellion in his apartment by smoking in his bed. Her actions are somewhat frustrating, her awkwardness prevails throughout the Jeremy Lin chapter. The subtext of the novel is a kind of primer for the internet lit scene. Because I have a working knowledge of the scene, the conversations seem normal and intriguing to me.

19. It’s time to stop hating victims.


21. Most (maybe all) sections of the novel have been previously published online. Her gdoc intermissions are impossible to find these days.

22 a.  I hate ‘well, I’ll do whatever you feel like him-on-top-start-to-finish men’ but unfortunately there is a glut of them. Women are better educated and more successful than they’ve ever been. I have a nice job and a nice life and sometimes I want to have sex like it’s jungle-fever. I’m a lioness, ya better fuck me like a lion. Lions have barbed penises. Not all women like rough sex, but a lot do. Do I want some dude to make me puke and eat it up? No. Do I want to feel a little bit of danger in the bedroom and forget briefly about the abundant safeness of the world I live in? Yes. Marie’s book provides fantasies I enjoy. Women who have a practical view of our sexual landscapes should generally enjoy this book. Women who have been traumatized or victimized by men may find this book insufferable. I found it exciting and somewhat therapeutic. That’s me. This subject is not for all.

b. Sometimes, I yelled at the book, “I hope you are learning from this shit!”

23. Why is the houndstooth pattern the spine of Marie’s paperback?

24. The most touching chapter involves a gentle British man easing Marie into prostitution. He pays her respectfully and treats her like a beautiful human. Their connection is touching. The most erotic scene in the chapter involves a threesome wherein Calloway reflects on the odd personalities of the men entering her.

25 a. Marie’s work will continue to be controversial because she experiences what we never want to experience and understands what we don’t want to understand.

b. The Hurt Locker ends with Sergeant First Class William James committing himself to the same situations, the same dangers, the same war. Marie Calloway’s first book ends in the exact same way.

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  1. Gabby Gabby

      sweet review frank

  2. Stephen Michael McDowell


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  6. 25 Points: what purpose did i serve in your life | HTMLGIANT

      […] A link to Frank Hinton’s review from a few weeks […]

  7. beachsloth

      This is a good review.

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      […] A link to Frank Hinton’s review from a few weeks […]