Fishnet – Kirstin Innes
Flicking through the paper I read this book had won The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2015. That’s nice, I thought. More than one person must’ve liked it. I flicked over a few preview pages on Amazon, as you do, and thought this was definitely worth splashing out for the full Monty. First, ‘cos Kirstin Innes, the author of Fishnet had researched her novel through ScotPep, a support group for sex workers in Edinburgh that I’ve got a lot of time for. And second, ‘cos Nine edited it. I was first introduced to ScotPep by this truly lovely young female activist when she interviewed me for The Skinny after I wrote my first book Sexual Fascism . We became friends and I got invited to ScotPep to be enthralled by the lovely people and enthusiasm (‘cos it certainly wasn’t money) that kept that group together. I couldn’t type in my Visa fast enough. Oh, what a treat! I mean… What a treat! Ms Innes can bring a character to life to the point its sitting on your lap.
I love The Office, so the comedy of manners in RDJ Construction was right up my street.
“Three sugars for Norman and a splash of milk. The tip of a spoon in the sugar for Moira. Then, and only then, you take the two teabags out of Norman’s mug. This is how Norman told me to make the tea, exactly this way, when I was settling in on my first day.
‘Moira doesn’t like it strong. Not at all. Me, I’m the opposite, see. I like brickie tea! Tea to put hairs on your chest! But Moira, it’s just delicate for her.’
His voice softer, more reverent, as he told me this than I’ve ever heard it since.
Moira and Norman are both married to other people, have been for years. Only when they go home, though. All that time they spend together in the day, looking after each other, smiling affectionately at each other, checking that the other one gets their tea right.”
By the time Fiona got the heave-ho from RDJ Construction, I was squirming on the couch with the embarrassment of it all!
“Elaine has no problems with me any more. There is patronage in her voice. I am no longer a problem in the work place, a discredit to the company. I’ve become a formality, and Elaine understands formalities.
‘Well, I don’t know Elaine. Think of all the possibilities, eh! Four months’ salary and the whole world spread out in front of me. Certainly no need to go back to the old nine-to-five right off – it’s not as though I’ve got any ties, now, is it? I think the first thing I’ll do is buy myself a really nice handbag. Maybe get my nails done. Where do you go? Who does yours?’
Her face shuts down. She understands that something isn’t correct here.
I am bright. I fizz with drink in me, talking too loud and laughing hard, brittle at everyone’s jokes. I am made of exclamation marks. I’m dazzling.”
I’m playing Rona, shellac-glossed. I am too good for these people, that job, this bar.
Anyway,’ Elaine’s saying. ‘Anyway. I’m going to have to get going. Moira, you wanting to share a taxi? George? Any takers?’
She’s done her duty, has Elaine. She doesn’t have to stay any longer.
‘Aw, come on!’ I’m shouting. ‘It’s my leaving night! Who’s up for staying out? Graeme? Ian, you going to stay out and see me off?’
‘I think I’ll go with Elaine, hen,’ Moira’s saying…”
You’ll love classy Camilla knocking back the cocktails, “Lovely. Glass of Viognier and a green salad, please. No dressing.” The night with Heatherz Henz is hilarious and dear Graeme, who’d’ve thought a man in charcoal slacks could be such a goer?
So what’s it all about… Without spoiling it, eh? Well… Rona walks out of her sister Fiona’s flat and disappears. Six years in, driven to distraction working at RDJ Construction, living on top of her mum and dad and a baby, Fiona discovers her sister was a sex worker. She is driven by a need to find her. This turns out to be a voyage of discovery with bucket loads of shocks and surprises. As the review accurately states, Fishnet takes a “clear-eyed, meticulously researched, controversial look at the sex industry and the lives of sex workers, questioning our perception of contemporary femininity.” And it does all that with bells on! It’s not just that this book overturns our preconceptions; it’s the way it does it. It’s masterclass. I can’t wait for more from Kirsten Innes.
How much for another book, love?