Published by Vintage on 6 November 2014
Genres: Adult Fiction
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From the author of Fight Club, the classic portrait of the damaged contemporary male psyche, now comes this novel about the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of female pleasure. Sisters will be doing it for themselves. And doing it. And doing it. And doing it some more . . . Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens and no love life at all. So it comes as a great shock when she finds herself invited to dinner by one C. Linus Maxwell, aka "Climax-Well," a software mega-billionaire and lover of the most gorgeous and accomplished women on earth. After dining at Manhattan's most exclusive restaurant, he whisks Penny off to a hotel suite in Paris, where he proceeds, notebook in hand, to bring her to previously undreamed-of heights of orgasmic pleasure for days on end. What's not to like? This: Penny discovers that she is a test subject for the final development of a line of sex toys to be marketed in a nationwide chain of boutiques called Beautiful You. So potent and effective are these devices that women by the millions line up outside the stores on opening day and then lock themselves in their room with them and stop coming out. Except for batteries. Maxwell's plan for erotically enabled world domination must be stopped. But how?
This is a silly book. I understand it is meant to be a satire on sex, the role of women in society and consumerism, but really, there is only so far Palahniuk can push the envelope.
The thing is that this book is pretty well written (I finished it after all), but the plot became so ridiculous and far-fetched that I found myself rolling my eyes on every second page.
A brief synopsis: Penny Harrigan is an everywoman. No supermodel good looks, no high flying career, she is simply average (and I like that). She is astounded when the world’s richest man (Maxwell) begins to court her, and their relationship quickly turns to one of mind-blowing sex and pleasure. Maxwell is in the sex toys business, a brand called Beautiful You, and tests all his prototypes on Penny. But there is something sinister about his motives, and when the products eventually hit the market, it has devastating consequences for the world as we know it.
This is my first Chuck Palahniuk novel, and even though I did not exactly enjoy Beautiful You, I still want to read his other works (Fight Club and Invisible Monsters.) He is a gifted writer and, for the most part, I enjoyed the first half of the novel. It begins as a Fifty Shades of Grey parody and is quite funny. But then it quickly spirals into absurdity and nonsense and becomes increasingly degrading to women.
If a fifteen-year-old, sexed crazed, sci-fi loving boy wrote a novel – this would be that novel.
– Fifty Shades of Silliness