Chuck Palahniuk’s Beautiful You follows the life of Penny Harrigan from her humble beginnings in Omaha, Nebraska into a worldwide tabloid sensation as she dates the world’s richest man, C. Linus Maxwell. Maxwell who stands as a model of perfection, scoops Penny up from her failing, unsubstantial life of multiple failed bar exams and dates her for exactly 136 days. This affair, for it is really more of a constant tryst in a Paris hotel room, results in an exploration of sensual pleasure at the hands of Maxwell. Maxwell has created a line of toys for women, toys that turn society on end and render women nearly comatose as they devote themselves to self-satisfaction. Imagine a society without women and full of angry, lonely men. Palahniuk does just a thing. When she is set free from her quasi-lover, Penny is left with a $50 million dollar trust fund and a vow of secrecy.
While a few other complexities enter the fray, on the whole, Palahniuk offers relatively few twists and turns this time around, especially for the avid reader. The plot unfolds with relative predictability, something it pains me to say at times. Maxwell’s past lovers are connected, his creations hold a secret, and a grand quest at world domination is exposed. These items are interesting but lack the flavor of some of his other creations.
This is not say that the read was not pleasurable, but that the read was not monumental. Basically, Palahniuk attempts to write another in his series of novels that pushes the limits of society by pointing out the flaws of western culture. While I have been a fan of his writing in the past, having read Rant and Fight Club multiple times, typically he writes in a punchy style, one that pokes fun at the nooks and crannies of life and our existence on a whole. While Beautiful You has an analysis of sex and females in general, it lacks the lines and gusto that have made Palahniuk successful in the past, the lines I have marked and pulled. In fact, the book is clean, devoid of annotation and line marking.
For a fan of the author, give the text a shot, but if you are new to his work, consider some of his more acclaimed titles, the ones that made way for a work that came in more average than anything else.