"What purpose did i serve in your life is such a unique document that I have no idea if she could ever repeat its success. But she has gone all the way. She has not chickened out. She wrote the story she was given down to the bone. That's what real artists do. It's maybe the most surprising triumph to emerge from the literature of disaffection: What purpose did i serve in your life is the real thing." -Esquire Magazine
"The experience of reading what purpose did i serve in your life, which rides the line between performed and genuine vapidity and malign naiveté so closely that the distinction between them blurs, is by turns dull, titillating, appalling, riveting, and as head-spinning, in Hoberman’s phrase, as “a hall of mirrors in which Girl Power and female powerlessness are endlessly reflected.” It is not, in other words, easy to turn away from. Easier, perhaps, to catch a shattered glance of oneself." -Slate
"I have never read a book like this before. It’s painful, shocking, and compellingly written, composed with great sensitivity to which details should be revealed and which must stay concealed. Its genre-muddle and formal complexity make for a completely unforgettable, profoundly contemporary, and plainly great work of courage and art. Here’s a terrifying proposal: could this be The Great American Novel for the twilight of “Great" America?" - Sheila Heti (author of "How Should a Person Be?")
"Marie Calloway has a very specific literary personality that the reader is intrigued by: she's masochistic, loves to experiment, is quickly bored and intermittently self-hating, very hip, rebellious. Figuring her out is a gripping adventure." - Edmund White
“This society hates feelings,” Kathy Acker said about a million times. A chain of regulation controls us by making us fear that we will be expelled from the human club for being the wrong kind of person. Marie Calloway breaks that chain of regulation by displaying her body like a beggar displays her wounds, by asserting awkwardness and shame (for the body, for ambition). Her book should be called, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman Who Can’t Be Controlled. Or is she the fiction, Holden Caulfield, Lolita, or Mme. Merteuil? How does a questing intelligence live inside the commodity?—searching for identity or personal branding? And if she is an attention whore, am I the attention john? Yes--but Calloway wonders as strongly as I do about what she might be, and she invites misunderstanding into her work. One thing is certain, though—She can really write about sex! - Robert Glück
"what purpose did i serve in your life is moving, unprecedented, threatening, and surreal—the exciting, rare work of someone with nothing to lose. It's intuitive and overpowering, concise and extreme. And, like a plant or a comet, it doesn't pause to explain what it's doing, defend or rationalize its existence, or attempt to obscure or distort its intentions. If you're attentive toward it—and earnest and open-minded and non-malicious in your attention—you will likely question and examine what you yourself are doing and why, and how to change." —Tao Lin
The Marie Calloway presented in this book is a cypher, a sex-kitten, a feminist using her own body as a laboratory; or she's a vapid internet-age narcissist. In her first book, Calloway gives us an eponymous character who is all of these things. A lot has been made of her sexual imagery and photos of her bruised body. Those moments stand in contrast to the representations of power imbalances between men and women. Marie is constantly portrayed in fragile, baby animal descriptors; she allows herself to be humiliated, to be used. With focus, Calloway's journal-like form could have become reflective, revealing the feedback loop of the internet for the hall of mirrors it is. However, sex and vanity are well-trod topics and she has few new things to say. The photo collages are mostly uninspired airings of mean things said about her. For the book's first half Marie's fragility carries the text, but her voice grows tiresome as she moves from selling sex to becoming a published author. Whether a pose or real, her fearlessness towards the page is a strength and is deeply interesting, but until Calloway finds a way to wed the writing to a deeper concept, it will remain feeling hollow.