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Calling Out

Calling Out

3.3 6
by Rae Meadows

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Fleeing heartbreak and boredom in Manhattan, Jane quits her job, drives west, and lands in Salt Lake City, where she takes a job answering phones at a Mormon-endorsed escort agency. As Jane struggles to find companionship and purpose in her new surroundings, she mothers the escorts and flirts with callers. But the pull of mystery and danger is too great. Boundaries


Fleeing heartbreak and boredom in Manhattan, Jane quits her job, drives west, and lands in Salt Lake City, where she takes a job answering phones at a Mormon-endorsed escort agency. As Jane struggles to find companionship and purpose in her new surroundings, she mothers the escorts and flirts with callers. But the pull of mystery and danger is too great. Boundaries begin to blur, and Jane inches toward a place that would have once been unthinkable: she becomes an escort. Shifting between self-doubt and confidence, uncertainty and adrenaline, Jane descends into the lonely world of sexual commerce and discovers–through her “bad” behavior–a new sense of self.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
A woman without a compass, Jane doesn't have the faintest idea how to ask for help. But she knows how to run. And run she does, packing up and heading west. Determined to shake off a life that feels like a dead end, she leaves Manhattan behind, along with her diffident boyfriend and a passionless job. Like the Mormons before her, Jane finds herself in Salt Lake City and lands the most unlikely of jobs in such territory -- answering phones at a Mormon-endorsed escort agency.

Jane's ability to cajole the timid callers, befriend the disparate gaggle of call girls, and remember important birthdays propels her into the role of agency den mother. But the inexorable pull of the darkness and risk of an escort's life is a temptation she doesn't have the willpower to refuse. As she tests the waters, hesitantly at first, but soon with a brazen confidence, Jane discovers more than the sordid side of sex for sale. Her inability to set boundaries may lead her into untenable situations, but if she survives them, they may yield a new vision of her unexplored potential.

Calling Out is a provocative and page-turning debut novel, one that captures the landscape and cultural contradiction in an unlikely place for starting over, but one, for Jane, more forgiving than what she's left behind. (Fall 2006 Selection)
Publishers Weekly
After a rough breakup followed by a few months of wanly suicidal gestures like "switching to nonlight cigarettes, not washing my hands after the subway, forgoing my seatbelt and driving fast," Jane (no last name) packs her life in her car and leaves New York, headed west. When she stops in Utah and takes a job answering phones at a Mormon-approved escort service, she is adamant that she won't go any further into the sex trade than the front desk. But perhaps inevitably, she finds herself working as an escort and coming alive through her "dates." Although there is body contact, her new duties involve more playacting and kindness than full sex-which provides a foil for all the playacting and kindness she'd offered her ex, McCallister, who attempts to woo her back, tepidly, throughout. Meadows, making her debut, gives Jane a thoughtfully staccato first-person, but it isn't quite enough to wrestle larger insights from her racy, provocative premise. (June 27) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A depressed 30-year-old advertising copywriter packs up her New York life and heads west in this debut novel. Chronically bored and suddenly single (her long-time boyfriend has met someone new), Jane realizes she's got to make a change before unhappiness pulls her under. Looking for any kind of sign, she seizes on a magazine article that lists Salt Lake City as a great place to live, packs up her wagon train of trouble and drives to Utah, hoping that the state's sheer scenic beauty and unfamiliar ways will help her heal. Once settled, Jane finds work answering the phones for an escort service owned by Mohammed, one of the few non-Mormons in town. Jane's duties include screening prospective clients and, for those new to the service, offering instruction as to what is permitted by local law. Can do: Kiss, cuddle, caress, tease, strip; can't do: sex, hand jobs, blow jobs, massages. Initially, Jane worries about her coworkers, a collection of young local girls, none of whom have ever been outside their home state. Jane encourages the youngest of them, Nikyla, to go to school. And the girls talk Jane into giving escorting a try. With little concern for her own safety or well-being, Jane befriends a risk-taking young woman with a growing cocaine habit, a troubled Mormon man who loves Jane but not the work she does and a frequent caller to the escort service who has a little more in mind than a strip-tease act. When Jane crosses the line between escort and prostitute, she wonders what could be next. Meadows displays strong narrative technique as she brings the disjointed culture of Mormon-ruled Salt Lake City and a group of 20-something Latter Day Sinners into high relief. But Jane's spiral intothe abyss is too controlled to suggest that her well-being is ever seriously at risk. Still, a writer to watch.
From the Publisher
“Meadows displays strong narrative technique as she brings the disjointed culture of Mormon-ruled Salt Lake City and a group of disjointed 20-something Latter Day Sinners into high relief…a writer to watch.”
Kirkus Reviews

"Rae Meadows' novel is a sexy, confident, totally winning debut...she brings the sordid world of the escort business into affecting and often hilarious relief. [She] is a shining talent."
–Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy

I recognize these dreamers and fallen angels from the books of Joan Didion and Hubert Selby and Denis Johnson, and here they spring to life in an unexpected place – the Great Salt Lake, the onetime American Holy Land that still draws wayward pilgrims. They are at once desperate and aspiring, lonely and hopeful: an escort making just a few more dates to pay for a root canal, a jack Mormon trying to impress a girl in a strip club by recounting the origins of his faith. In her own rush toward oblivion, our clearheaded heroine navigates among them without pity, but with a grace that ultimately make this a story not of loss, or sin, but of redemption.”
–Mark Sundeen, author of Car Camping and The Making of Toro

Product Details

MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
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Meet the Author

Rae Meadows is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA program at the University of Utah. Her short stories have appeared in Mississippi Review, Flyway, 580 Split, and Fine Print. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Calling Out is her first novel.

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Calling Out 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The grammatical errors with the dialogue made it difficult to understand in places. Although I am not Morman, I noticed an inaccuracy regarding the levels of heavan. Celestial is the highest level, not the lowest. This made me question the accuracy of other Morman details. However, it was an interesting story. The writing style really exemplified the sad desperation of the main character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bethiclaus More than 1 year ago
I picked up the book because it was in the Discover Great New Writers section of B&N. I enjoyed the author's writing style and the story moved along quickly without too much tied-up-with-a-bow finish. I read the book on the Nook and there were a number of problems with the formatting, but my rating is based purely on the content of the work. I would recommend the book for women who have small blocks of time for reading (I have four small children) and who want something to read that has great character content.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TDM More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book because it gave me insight into a world unknown to me (escort services) and set in a location I'd like to learn more about (Salt Lake City). I enjoyed the book, but I did not find it riveting or a real page turner. More like just a casual and fun read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an author ('Doc the Bunny and Other Short Tales', ISBN 0972005072), I love discovering new talent. I picked up Ms. Meadows' first novel after reading about it in 'Poets and Writers'. The book is a quick read, enthralling in its characters and scenery (Utah is the locale. Mormonism teeters in and out of the story like an out-of-round zealot). The protagonist, Jane (aka Roxanne) flees New York City for Salt Lake City in the face of a failed long term romance, finds a soul mate who becomes her lover and friend, and then, with the voice of her former New York lover seeking her out long distance, she plummets into a world of seedy depravity. Intelligent, witty (maybe a little too much of both for the role) Jane becomes entrenched in a world (that of a sex worker first as a mere receptionist, and then, as the money lures her on, as an escort) that ultimately comes close to devouring her. Overall, the players and the stage fit together well, but it is the smooth, quickly paced dialogue and narrative that move the tale. Jane is a bit too refined, a bit too grounded and intelligent to fall as fast and as far as she did. And some of the sex scenes seem forced, more like out takes from a bad bachelor party rental than a literary novel. But overall, a tight, well crafted piece of fiction.