Saturday, October 25, 2014

I really hated "Beautiful You" by Chuck Palahniuk

bookcover of BEAUTIFUL YOU by Chuck Palahniuk
I haven't read any of the author's other books so I really didn't know what to expect from this book.  I thought it might be a humorous social satire -- when I told my co-workers the basic story line, they all laughed -- so I decided to take a chance on it. This could have been a scathingly funny book in the hands of a writer who really understands and likes women and can poke fun at our foibles without getting ugly, but this is not that book and apparently not that writer. I just don't find any humor in a man using sex to control and manipulate the female population and the overall feel of the book to me was misogynistic, not humorous.  Reading it made me want to burn it in my driveway to help exorcise it from my mind.

This book has a LOT of sex so don't read it if you aren't comfortable with that.  But all that sex is very unsexy and instead ranged from clinical to gross (dead mother's finger used as a sexual aid????).  The first three pages of this book were my first clue that this was going to be an unpleasant reading experience.  The main female character is raped in a public courtroom and no one comes to her aid.  The circumstances are explained much later in the book but that passage made me very uncomfortable.

For social satire to be effective, it has to paint an accurate (even if exaggerated) picture of the follies of society it is intending to skewer. The main female character fails in that aspect.  She is supposed to be a young lawyer at a NY firm and the author has her fetching coffee and looking for chairs for a meeting.  Young lawyers do a lot of grunt work but it is all billable legal grunt work. And the notion that nearly all women would buy the Beautiful You products and then abandon their jobs, families and every other aspect of their lives reflect such a poor understanding of what women are like that it makes the book fail for me.

I don't throw around the term misogyny lightly, but this book felt anti-woman from beginning to end.  I really can't recommend that any women read this book.  I suspect that there will be a number of readers who think this book is brilliant and hilarious -- and I suspect that they will be overwhelmingly male.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine in exchange for a review.  Obviously getting it free didn't make me predisposed to like it. 


  1. Sandy, what was your opinion on the Promise Keepers angle? I was a bit unsettled by the fact that they were basically portrayed as the heroes, trying to save the women from themselves.

    1. By that part of the book I was so disgusted I wasn't paying very close attention. I just wanted it to be done.

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  3. Chuck really doesn't like women, does he? I think I'm actually completely done with his books. Why give him the attention?