First Draft Sex Toys: Thoughts On Chuck Palahniuk’s “Beautiful You”

“A billion husbands are about to be replaced.”

Oh, shut up.


This had its moments: I won’t lie. There’s a twanging absurdity to just about anything that Chuck Palahniuk writes that will drive me to dig through it for something meaningful–he can be so uniquely readable. But lately it’s just been one disappointment after another. I don’t know if it’s ego or the assembly-line attitude of literature that seems to be at work lately, but something’s got to give for Palahniuk to retain any of the credibility he gained from Fight Club, Surivivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke.

Beautiful You isn’t the female companion piece to Fight Club that everyone seems to believe it to be. It’s got an interesting twist and a unique point of view–but the story itself is so boring I felt the need to read Choke back to it in order to remind it what beautiful sexual satire and vulgarity can really do properly. And that’s not to suggest that this idea–this entire book–couldn’t be saved. I do believe that the horrors of rape and desensitivity exist in this book for satirical purposes–but they’re so clumsily wielded that it feels instead like just more shocking shock that shocked you for the purposes of shocky shockery.

Chuck, my friend–this isn’t a finished book. This is a first or second draft. Don’t publish your second drafts.

That’s actually pretty good advice for anyone.

It had its moments, but an intriguing climax and resolution comes too late after many, many pages of what appears to be South Park style satire written by someone who is a fan of Palahniuk’s, instead of Chuck himself. When he takes his time, Palahniuk can create books that make you want to headbutt your boss’s smug grin into oblivion (in the name of justice, of course). Rant comes to mind–Rant was good.

I’d like another Rant.

I don’t know who told you that you needed to pump out a book a year, Chuck, but you should probably punch that person. Punch him or her plenty good. And take your time with the next one.

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