Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk… A Review

Fifty Shades of Grey meets Bridget Jones, sprinkled with a heavy dose of The Walking Dead and Eat, Pray, Love. And even though I am not a prude, there was some gross added too…

How's that for a review? All of which describes Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk. I picked up the book at the library, read the inside front jacket, which made this sound like it would be a hoot to read, but it really went beyond what I could have imagined…

Penny Harrigan is a small town girl from Omaha, who has ambitions beyond her good girl nature. She studies law, moves to New York and finds work at a prestigious law firm while trying to pass the bar exam AGAIN. In the meantime, she accidentally falls face first into a meeting room with none other than C. Linus Maxwell, richest man in the world, aka Climax-Well, because he is famous for his amazing sexual prowess, who immediately asks the plain jane clerk out on a date. (Sound like a familiar plot?) Fast forwarding ahead a bit, Penny starts to "date" the rich guy. At first it's pretty platonic, but then it takes a different turn, and Penny understands his nickname AND his abilities with the ladies. But their "romance" is more like Penny being a lab rat for Max's development of a line of sex toys than anything else. Max breaks up with Penny after the research is done, and sends her on her way. Things start to turn a bit sinister here, with women all over the world obsessing over these sex toys and abandoning their jobs, husbands and lives (Here's where The Walking Dead part comes in). Good girl Penny decides she needs to save the day because she feels partly responsible for these "toys", and tries all her resources, including a trip to Nepal for a visit with a hermit sex witch who is well versed in… well you know. If that weren't enough, there is a plot twist at the end that almost redeems the bad guy, in a "I did it all for love" kind of scenario.

So, did I like it?… Yes and no. The writing was good, the plot was unique and was humorous, but then it went just a little over the top for me with the trip to Nepal and the hermit. The ending made me sad for good girl Penny, who I thought deserved more. But this is Chuck Palahniuk, cult writer known for what is termed transgressive fiction, or fiction that "focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways." This certainly isn't going to be your Momma's cup of tea, unless she's Erica Jong, but if you can get past the hermit, and some of the graphics, the story itself was that kind of tongue in cheek look at what would happen if women didn't "need" their male counterparts any more, and that part was funny.

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