REVIEW: ‘How to Pose For Hustler’ by Andrea Kneeland

How To Pose For Hustler might well be one of the finest books to show the true reflection of the anxious-depressed and honest passive person, when they look in the mirror with a hangover, wondering what happened to their life.
These stories exist in that moment of self-reflection, that idea captured and expanded through multiple stories, detailing the gritty reality of the lives we live. These aren’t stories where the characters walk off holding hands into the sunset, but instead are stories where the character wonders if the sun will fall and burn them to save them from their relationship.

Kneeland shows that dirty realism is alive, even though sometimes the characters in the stories don’t want to be. Multiple stories take place from the perspective of a fragile female narrator. Through Kneeland’s mastery of storytelling they explore what it means to strive to be content, showcasing what it’s like to be in a relationship where you would rather perform oral sex than cuddle and have a discussion because the idea of emotional intimacy is far scarier than physical intimacy.

The book is a short read, around 150 pages long. Yet, How To Pose For Hustler reads even quicker, some stories being a page, some prose poems less than that. The most remarkable thing about this book is how it grips into your heart, searching for blackness and despair in there that never necessarily existed before, or you didn’t know it did, and through an illumination of the world that people pretend doesn’t exist, shows you what you already suspected in this ever messed up world that we live in.

That may be the best thing about How To Pose For Hustler, other than every story being a homerun and hitting the nail on the head in every way possible. The book makes you feel better about the world, not because it shows the good parts of it – far from it – but because it represents those marginalized feelings that you know and may have felt, it’s that friend who rests their hand on your shoulder and says “this is beautifully fucked up” and in between the pages of this book you can look back and smile, feel better for the company.

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