Read Women Write 2014/15: Book 12: Helena S. Paige: A Girl Walks Into a Bar


Growing up, my sister and I often spent weekends at my paternal grandmother’s house. Granny Moira, loved to read and do crosswords. She had an amazing flat in Umhlanga Rocks with a massive balcony and swimming pool. Whilst we didn’t always see eye to eye, I have so many happy memories of lying on the bed in her spare room reading books.

Normally those weekends would include vast amounts of cold pork sausages or roast chicken, chocolates, playing card games, and a trip to the Umhlanga library. Sometimes they also involved painting ceramics, or chipping the old plaster off of the back of old tiles (I’m not sure why because I don’t remember her ever re-tiling).

Some of my favourite books to take out where the choose your own adventure stories. I would make sure to mark each option that I had chosen, and read them over and over again until I had exhausted all the options. I was always left with that lingering feeling though that I had missed one, and so because they were quick, often did a double-check.

With A Girl Walks Into a Bar, I had the exact same feeling of thrill and excitement. Would I be able to choose all the options? Where would they lead me? For the uninitiated, A Girl Walks Into a Bar is a choose your own adventure erotica. You begin the journey by choosing the underwear you’d like to wear for your night out on the town, and the rest is history (the type of history you should probably not read on the train because it is that saucy and because you will blush the whole way home).

I have never read erotica before, mostly because I didn’t like the idea of a woman being rescued by a man, which I’ve been led to believe is the plot of most of them. (Side note – if I’m wrong, tell me now, and recommend some more books!) This book, however, was nothing like that. This was a woman, enjoying herself, experiencing sexual pleasure, and going home afterwards with a grin on her face. As will you. A big grin.

Part of the pleasure of this book, aside from the obvious, was in the choosing. The whole focus was on choosing an experience that you thought would be pleasurable, a narrative which is sadly often missing from discussions about women’s sexuality. I loved that. This book has been published the world over in a host of different languages, pointing to the fact that a) many women love sex and want to read about it, and b) we love stories that affirm our right to make choices.

The other cool thing about this book is that it is written by three female writers, together. As a writer, that thought excites me. (Note to self: plan famous novel collection with friends). The ‘Helen’ in Helena is Helen Moffett, whose book of poetry I reviewed earlier in the project. The S. is Sarah Lotz, whose thrilling speculative fiction I reviewed earlier in the project. The Paige is Paige Nick, a novelist also from South Africa (watch out Paige, I’m coming for your fiction).

Finally, the coolest thing about A Girl Walks In is that it is a series! So you can also get A Girl Walks into A Blind Date, and A Girl Walks Into a Wedding. I’m super keen to read the next two.

Follow A Girl Walks In on twitter here and on Facebook here.