Fran Arrick Patty Campbell - Essay

Patty Campbell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Steffie Can't Come Out to Play is the type of book] that makes evil sound like fun, not by explicit sexual detail, but by its omission.

The book's subject is that classic cliché of the country girl seduced into prostitution. The story follows the stereotype point by point….

[Fran Arrick] has tried so hard for "good taste" that she has made prostitution seem like a pleasanter way to earn a living than bagging burgers at MacDonald's. There is not one description of a sexual encounter. The weirdest behavior Steffie has to cope with is from a man who asks her to stand in front of an open window, and from another who gets his jollies from slipping her a dose of LSD. Granted, Steffie's very first experience is embarrassing because she has to approach the man; but her discomfort seems no worse than the sufferings of less sophisticated teenagers at the senior prom. On the other hand, there is lots of explicit talk of exactly how much money Steffie earns (it beats MacDonald's $2.65 an hour) and loving descriptions of the pretty clothes—silver boots, French jeans—her pimp buys her. Here is a book that would have been less problematic if it had had more sordid detail.

Patty Campbell, "Explicit Omissions," in Wilson Library Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 4, December, 1978, p. 341.