Most people know Chuck Palahniuk because he wrote Fight Club, which inspired one of the best films of all time (in not only my opinion it seems). Although I am a big fan of the film I haven’t actually read the book although I have read a few of his other novels, most memorably Rant. Mr O has quite a collection of Palahniuk novels knocking about since he’s one of the few fiction authors he’s actually interested in reading so when I was looking for my next bath book I decided it was time to delve back in and this was his recommendation.
After a terrible accident a once beautiful model is left horribly disfigured and near mute. With her life in tatters in walks Brandy Alexander, a wonderfully glamorous transgender woman who makes her living stealing drugs while pretending to view high profile houses.
She takes the model under her wing and introduces her to the idea of mystery through invisibility by covering her in layers and layers of veils. The two travel the country with a male companion as the model relays the story of her life in a non-linear fashion slowly revealing her strained relationship with her parents who are struggling to overcome her brother’s death, the break-up of her relationship with her fiance as well as her best friend’s involvement therein and her and Brandy’s strange adventures. As the story unfolds it soon becomes obvious that absolutely no one and nothing is as it seems and that the truth is more disturbing that anything you could have possibly imagined.
What you have to love about Palahniuk is that he has absolutely zero fear of fuck-upness and this is an enormously fucked up story. As more and more was revealed I found myself with my jaw on the floor on several occasions barely able to believed that the shit I had just read had actually been written down and it was electric. As well as this being one hell of a dark tale Palahniuk also does an amazing job of commenting on the concept of beauty and how it can be as much of a blessing as it is a cage in our ever more superficial society.
I won’t pretend it’s not a challenging read with the timeline jumping all over the place and I had moments where I wasn’t quite sure what the hell was going on but overall it was a thrilling, revolting, confusing and exhilarating ride. Highly recommended.