...Jo Phillips... Amazon Verified Purchase.
I read this book over the Christmas holidays and I think my husband may of regretted buying me my Kindle Fire as he barely got a word out of me for the days I was reading it. It is a riveting read! My initial interst in the book was due to the fact that I knew the author and his family from school days and I was naturally intrigued and curious to see how life had panned out for the youngest Lovell, However I defy anybody to not be captivated by this story of a young gay man who leaves very humble beginnings to find a new life in the big city and what a remarkable life it is! His entry into the rent boy scene is almost accidental and what follows is a fascinating tale of the years that follow. He tells his story with a honesty which while always endearing is at times also heartbreaking. That said what struck me most was the total lack of self pity that the author has for the difficult start he had in life, his indestructible optimism and his resiliance and determination to live his life his way, answering to no one (although frequently worrying about offending the man upstairs with whom he has a surprising and touching internal dialogue with throughout the book).
The book is full of colourful characters and encounters, Paul is a risk taker in the way only those with big brave hearts dare to be and this makes for a wonderful tale. Throughout the book he grabs every opportunity offered and runs and runs and runs with it, often without any clear direction but always with a total openess to just see where he lands which is both inspiring and uplifting. While at times gritty this is a book that will definately leave you feeling good and maybe like myself a little humbled at what he has managed to achieve against some pretty tricky odds. Cannot reccommend highly enough!
...Jayne Lockwood...Author of The Cloud Seeker and Closer Than Blood.
I try to avoid overused adjectives like poignant, heart-warming, life-affirming or compelling, but this book is all four. I have barely been able to put it down.
Put simply, it is the biography of a young gay man scraping a living on his back, finding punters on the streets of London in the 80's and 90's and partying hard in between. He is an alternative working class hero who makes no apology for his profession or his sexuality, who is painfully aware of his own vulnerability and foibles. This isn't an erotic novel, but one that is an excruciatingly honest account of a life lived on a knife edge. Drugs, sex, AIDS and poverty are all recounted with a refreshingly perky style, punctuated by moving passages of great beauty.
At the same time as reading this, I have also been reading John Rechy's City of Night, and whilst Paulyanna lacks the artistic tics of Rechy's seminal novel, I would stick my neck out and say he gives the great man a run for his money. In fact, Lovell's style is more engaging and readable, less intimidating. This is Rechy-lite, English style, and an important read for those who are gay and struggling with their identity or straight and curious.
...S. J. DAGG... Author & Editor
It couldn’t be better timed that Paulyanna: International Rent-boy by Paul Douglas Lovell has been published exactly 100 years after Pollyanna (by Eleanor H Porter) first hit the literary scene. And yes, Paulyanna, coined by one of Paul’s friends, is a clever adaptation of Pollyanna.
Paul is Pollyannaish through and through. And that’s a real word – Pollyannaish. It’s in the dictionary. (Check if you don’t believe me!) It means someone who’s incorrigibly optimistic and upbeat. And that’s what Paul is.
Paulyanna follows Paul through early adulthood as he begins to make his way in the world. Emerging from an underprivileged childhood in the Midlands, Paul heads to London to take up his first job as a kitchen porter. He’s delighted to be in the city, where he’s free to be himself – to be independent and to express his sexuality. From portering he moves on to barwork and later a responsible job in the music TV industry, but increasingly he comes to rely on his alternative career as a rent boy to support him.
A character himself, with his strength of personality, slightly unconventional interpretation of the Catholic faith and strong belief in karma, Paul encounters some equally fascinating people along the way. Some are good, generous and sympathetic, others less so. Others, such as his friend Richard whom he calls his ‘partner in crime’, are a bit of both.
He travels to Spain, Holland and America and his amazing eye for detail really comes into play here in his depictions of the appearance and atmosphere of the places he visits.
Drugs, street life, friends succumbing to Aids, loneliness – there’s a tough, gritty element to the book but the overall impression is of hope and cheerfulness. The Pollyanna in Paul won’t be beaten.
As you read the book you’re rooting for things to turn out well for Paul who doesn’t ask for much – a settled loving life with a husband and a dog – so when the dark, handsome Michael turns up, you’re holding your breath. Will he be the one to cement Paul’s happiness?
The book is so well written. Paul’s style is easy to read, ranging from the poetic to the pithy.
He’s a great companion through the pages of the book.
This is a thoroughly modern, entertaining memoir that I recommend to everyone.
...Douglas Gellaty... Author
I finished reading Paul Douglas Lovell's Paulyanna: International Rent Boy on a flight from Melbourne, Australia, to London, the setting for much of the novel. Right through the book I was fascinated with Paul's frank account of his life from his restricted childhood to his commercial encounters with men, many men.
Other friends and acquaintances come and go throughout the narrative too, and they are not all in London.
I wondered how such a story could end and how it finished blew me away — complete with this reader's moist eyes.
Keep writing, Paul, please.
...lizziem... Amazon customer.
I LOVED Paulyanna International Rent-boy. It came across as devastatingly honest, a young man looking for love and finding it in many places! Best book I've read in ages.
...UVI POZNANSKY... Author of Apart From Love and Rise to Power.
An account of an unusual life, for a reader with an open mind
Paul Douglas Lovell is simply a natural story teller. There is no other way to explain the flow and beauty of his language. He aims to instill hope in other victims of circumstance, who like him are clinging to the dream of coming into their own.
At first, when I took a peek at the book description, I suspected that it may not be right for me. But once I started reading I realized how mistaken I was. This is so much more than a story about coming out of the school of hard knocks. I love the abundance of lyrical observations. For example, describing the pinstripe mattress in his Paris hotel, he says, “I guessed it had seen more years than I. I could see old horse hair and springs through a mouse-sized hole. It reminded me of home.” Then he describes the solitary desk. “I imagined the ghost of a tormented writer on the edge of insanity, battling with pill and alcohol-induced demons, frantically scribbling down his wild notions, surrounded by crumpled rejects.”
Like Memoirs of a Geisha, Paulyanna is told from the first person point of view, sketching out early childhood, then presenting an account of an unusual life. And like the character in his favorite movie, ‘Pretty Woman’, Paul Douglas Lovell reveals his thoughts in a logical, pragmatic manner, saying, “I viewed being a rent-boy as a viable option to escape an unfair poverty trap.” Quite readily, he admits, “Even before I started school, my reputation as a troublemaker preceded me. I didn’t disappoint.”
The author considered himself “damaged goods” from around the age of seven, and later, at the age of fifteen, he left school prematurely, and became further excluded from mainstream society. By some internal strength he managed to maintain a sense of innocence, by means of separating what he does from who he is. “My inner being was still regarded as highly precious, whereas my exterior body I considered a mere shell.”
I find it amazing that with this heavy baggage he could find his way to explore the unmistakable talent he has in writing. Describing his first attempts to put pen to paper, he says, “I suppressed my gritty experiences and found myself desperate to find something suitably middle-classed and perhaps less predictable.” And later, he says with a humility that endears him to me, “The awareness that my pieces needed rewriting were my only indicator that I must have been progressing.”
For a reader with an open mind—which I hope you are—it is simply a human story, told with wit, crackling with self deprecating humor, and developed in a gentle, utterly engrossing manner. “Non-conformity was my curse, one that I changed into a blessing.”
… CHRISTOPH FISCHER … Author & a
Top 500 Amazon Reviewer.
Insightful and fascinating memoir
"Paulyanna International Rent-boy" by Paul Douglas Lovell is a very accomplished memoir that tells with great honesty and no false pretence the story of a gay working class man, who, amongst many other things, gradually comes of age during his younger years, Coming to terms with his family situation and his class position within society, poverty, religious aspects of his life and his own personal needs are just as big a part of this memoir than his chosen profession as rent boy, first in London and then in other places.
His private life, his feelings for his customers, his friends and his lovers are described with tact, understanding and love. His book shows insight into the gay world of the 80ies and 90ies,a world I witnessed first hand, also in London, and I must congratulate Lovell for his accurate and sensitive portrayal, describing the life as it was, without exaggeration, unnecessary drama or political victimisation.
If you are looking for a book that does cover this world without bitterness and blame then this is for you. An insightful and fascinating read.
...Amos Lassen... Top Reviewer of GLBT literature & film.
If you have ever wondered about the world of male prostitution, here are the answers to some of your questions. Whatever his reasons for working the street, Paul does not think about them and refuses to dwell on the past especially when his future is so wide open. It just happens that in his case, Paul wound up on the street because of a lost train ticket. He finds himself stuck after a job interview and he thinks about his situation and his decision led him to the skin trade. We are very lucky that he shares his stories of the street with us.
Contrary to what some of you may think, working the street is not a glamorous life. In fact, according to Paul it is quite raw and there are risks and dangers alongside the fun and the thrills (and the cash). Paul knew what he wanted and he was determined to find happiness, security and money and he wants us to see him as a regular gay with no severe problems. He even tells us that he wants to remove the preconceptions that many have about rent boys or as we call them in America, hustlers. He lets us know that he is more than a pretty face and a “stereotyped cliché”.
The first thing that we notice about Paul is his optimistic outlook on life. He did not have it easy and although he does not want to tell us about the unpleasantries of his youth, we do know that his childhood was one of underprivilege. He comes to London to work and he loves the town while he has a chance to explore his own sexual preference. He is lucky work wise—he moves from washing dishes to working in a bar and to a job in the music industry. He is a strong guy, both physically and mentally and although he was raised Catholic, his acceptance of it is a bit unconventional and he prefers to believe that his life is one of karma.
He is quick to make friends, especially Richard. He is even able to travel a bit but as stated earlier life on the streets wears on a person and there are threats such as AIDS and loneliness. Through it all, Paul does not lose hope and he really does not want much. Like the rest of us, he lets us know that a home and a husband would be nice.
Lovell gives us a wonderful account of Paul’s life on the streets of London and Los Angeles with no sensationalism nor contempt for the skin trade. The author tells a good story and we find that as we read we are picking up on every word. Lovell gives wonderful descriptions and it as if we are having the same experiences as Paul. Of course all is not roses for Paul—he has some bad experiences and he gets depressed once in a while but he is basically an upbeat person.
Author Lovell writes beautifully with a sense of poetry and humor. The story is not perfection and I could write about a couple of flaws but what is the point? I enjoyed the read and recommend it highly. We, in America, might have a bit of trouble with the part that takes place in London but that’s fine. There is always something new we can learn. I personally learned of a new voice in gay literature and I hope to be hearing more of it.
...Lorenzo... Amazon Verified Purchaser.
Didn't know what to expect with Paulyanna, what I got was a wonderful frank incisive glimpse into a world of challenge and often reward, occasionally tinged with disappointment with the behaviour of others. I had a personal reason to read this full length biopic as I just about knew the author at school, but what I got was an eloquent honest account of making way in the world, exploiting talents and responding to opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it. The epilogue hints at a sequel - put me on the advance orders list Paul, I'm hooked.
...Alison Jack... Author & Editor
I had absolutely idea what to expect when I began reading PAULYANNA – INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY, although the title does offer a huge clue as to what the book’s about. The author, Paul Douglas Lovell, delivers exactly what the title promises: a down to earth, candid, and often humorous account of his years working the streets of London and LA. He neither sensationalises nor condemns his former profession; instead, he tells his tale with the skill of a natural storyteller, and the result is an absorbing and highly entertaining read.
The author himself is quick to point out that PAULYANNA – INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY is not a work of erotica. It is a no holds barred account of his experiences, both good and bad, of different gay scenes, working life, highs and lows, friends and foes. Paul has faced difficult times throughout his life, but I never found PAULYANNA to be a depressing read. Far from it; Paul’s wry observations and dry wit often had me laughing out loud. The name ‘Paulyanna’ (clearly derived from ‘Pollyanna’) hints at Paul’s nature. I didn’t know until reading PAULYANNA – INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY that ‘Pollyanna’ is officially a word – it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary – meaning ‘an excessively cheerful and optimistic person’, which says it all. Paul’s exuberant, almost childlike, zest for life is expressed beautifully in his book.
Paul Douglas Lovell has the ability to describe people and situations so vividly it’s possible to believe we, as the readers, are experiencing them with him. He tells of some scary and occasionally dangerous situations, and there are times that get him down, but his natural optimism always sees him through adversity, and the overall feel of PAULYANNA – INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY is upbeat and positive. His relationships with his family, husbands, friends, and customers are all shared with refreshing honesty, as are a few sharp lessons he learns along the way. Some people are constants in Paul’s life, others transient, and as his story progresses he increasingly wishes for that one special person to provide him with a happy ending. Does his dream come true?
I suggest you read PAULYANNA – INTERNATIONAL RENT-BOY and find out! I wasn’t disappointed, and I’m sure you won’t be either. This book is an excellent read: a fascinating story told well, and I hope it gets the accolades – and the sales – it so richly deserves.
...Rsammy... Amazon Verified Purchaser.
A no holds barred account of a somewhat colorful life - I enjoyed it!
I enjoyed this book. Having got to know Paul after the conclusion to his "story" I was interested to read how it had all begun. He certainly describes an eventful life - and it makes for a difficult read in parts; childhood poverty, lack of education, homophobia, homelessness and as the title gives away ... prostitution. Paul has obviously overcome a lot in his life and the simple fact that he is now happily married & a writer shows how determined he is to achieve his dreams, especially considering his poor start in life. I wondered if the book would glamorize prostitution as the title kind of suggests it - it doesn't in my eyes although I was left kind of wondering if it was meant to. After all, Paul got himself out of a crappy life but made his living through prostitution, managing to travel to a fair few fancy places along the way - he then met his future husband and lived happily ever after ....
I think what shocked me was how "easy" prostitution seemed to be. By that I mean how easy to get business and how it appeared to me that everyone is at it and there is this whole world that I knew absolutely nothing about!
Paul is a good writer, he has a knack of matter of fact "telling it how it is" with a certain poetic charm which really made the book enjoyable. If I didn't already know and admire Paul, would I "like" the character in the book? Honestly I don't know, but that actually contributed to my enjoyment of the book because I got the feeling Paul wouldn't give a damn and I admire that about the character! I certainly like the style in which the book is written and would recommend to anyone looking for a no holds barred account of someone's somewhat colorful life!
Paul writes with such honesty from his early life through to adulthood, his ups and downs which eventually lead him to his true destiny without holding on to any self pity along the way.
Would recommend as a fantastic read which I found difficult to put down when I started it !!!!
rated it 5 of 5 stars
Smacked me in the face. I don't know what else to say. Fortunately, others have described this book and the feelings that go along with reading it, very well. I can say that I learned a lot about a world that is so very foreign and for what it's worth, I thank the author for sharing. I will be reading this one multiple times.