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Beautiful You [NOOK Book]

Overview

"A billion husbands are about to be replaced."

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 a new product that gives new meaning to the term "self-help." 

Penny Harrigan is a low-level associate in a big Manhattan law firm with an apartment in Queens ...

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Beautiful You

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Overview

"A billion husbands are about to be replaced."

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 a new product that gives new meaning to the term "self-help." 

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, 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 gratification 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 feminine products 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 battery-powered world domination must be stopped. But how?

 




From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Chuck Palahniuk wraps his new novel in an enticing pink package that promises to unleash powerful thought orgasms and controversy among readers. At the center of Beautiful You is Manhattan law firm serf Penny Harrigan, software multi-billionaire C. Linus Maxwell, and the "climax-well" toys for females that lend their very apt name to the title. Overflowing with outrageous humor and satirical intent, this provocative escapade promises to arouse passions of every variety.

Library Journal
07/01/2014
There's a familiar plot for bad romance novels or romantic comedies. An awkward girl in the big city runs into a gentleman who's way out of her league. The two meet and the man begins to remake the girl from an ugly duckling into the confident, vivacious woman she never knew she wanted to be. And then the guy uses the girl to test his new line of designer sex toys. Sex toys so perfectly calibrated that women will stop pursuing careers, raising families, or even eating, choosing instead to spend all their time chasing pleasure in darkened rooms. Using the language and tropes of poorly written romances, Palahniuk springboards into a female version of his seminal work Fight Club, exploring what modern consumerist society does to women by trying to manipulate and control their sexuality. VERDICT While writing female protagonists has never been Palahniuk's strongest suit, his latest novel has a more powerful message and compelling hook than many of his recent efforts. Full of original imagery and sensibilities, this is sure to amuse and horrify even his most ardent fans. Casual readers will be hard pressed to find anything else like it on the shelf. Highly recommended for everyone except the prudish or readers of actual romance novels. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.]—Peter Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA
Publishers Weekly
05/26/2014
Palahniuk (Fight Club; Doomed) continues to push limits in this satire of sex and consumerism, in which “the Nerd’s Cinderella,” Penny Harrigan, finds her average self in bed with tech megabillionaire Cornelius Linus Maxwell, dubbed “Climax-well,” the greatest lover ever known. What begins as Penny’s shy sexual exploration quickly becomes experimenting for Maxwell’s research into pleasure products. While enduring erotically induced comas and life-threatening orgasms, Penny moves up the social ladder, meeting Max’s former lovers, actress Alouette D’Ambrosia, and U.S. President Clarissa Hind. But as he did with his previous lovers, Maxwell dumps Penny on exactly day 136 of their relationship, and then releases his Beautiful You personal care products to the public—a revolutionary event that marks men’s obsolescence and turns women into titillated zombies. While women withdraw to their rooms for days and weeks, Penny learns that Max has much more power than anyone realizes. Men in suits following Penny and a Nepalese sex witch discuss the power of trends and brands, and the choice of self-pleasure over intimate human contact all contribute to Palahniuk’s satire. His cheeky wit is at its best in this grotesque novel; his semi-erotic writing is efficacious and there are some downright beautiful scenes. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Beautiful You:

"Sex is on the mind of author Chuck Palahniuk, and it is taken to extremes and tweaked to outrageous lengths in his latest novel, Beautiful You50 Shades of Grey this isn't. In fact, the book is almost a middle finger to "mommy porn" and the popularity of modern erotica — while also being a smart, satirical take on misogyny, fame, the fashion industry, self-help and science... Palahniuk's graphic storytelling is bound to ruffle puritanical feathers—which is probably part of his point—but it's essential to the societal takedown. Nothing is sacred and everything gets torched, from pop culture (at one point vampire novels are used as thrown weapons, an obvious Twilight reference) to celebrity."
USA Today

"The author of Fight Club offers barbed social satire that turns Aristophanes’ Lysistrata sideways; giving readers something to talk about."
Library Journal

"Palahniuk continues to push limits in this satire of sex and consumerism... His cheeky wit is at its best in this grotesque novel; his semi-erotic writing is efficacious and there are some downright beautiful scenes."
Publishers Weekly

"...[A] subtle and empathic piece of work."
Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
05/15/2014
Lowly law-firm associate Penny Harrigan is surprised to be wined and dined by C. Linus Maxwell, multibillionaire and squire to the world's most traffic-stopping women. But he has an ulterior motive: he's using her to test a line of sex toys so pleasure-inducing that women desert men in droves. What are men to do? Barbed social satire.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-08-24
Less macho than most of Palahniuk's work, this Cinderella-with-sex-toys parable is the transgressive writer's attempt at a feminist (or post-feminist) novel. Ever since he debuted with Fight Club (1996), the prolific Palahniuk has built a cult following by taking a series of provocative ideas and pushing them to the limit. And then past the limit. Here, the gimmick is a series of sex products designed for women, so effective that one satisfied customer exclaims, "Men are obsolete!...Anything a man can do to me, I can do better!" Women disappear from the public sphere to pleasure themselves in private, leaving "[a] world of furious, obsolete penises." Though sex saturates the novel, its description is more clinical than libidinous, and the protagonist isn't focused only on one thing. Penny Harrigan is something of an all-American girl, an obedient daughter who has moved from Nebraska to work in a New York law firm. She idolizes the nation's first female president and is told by the man who will change her life—and the course of the world—"I love you because you're so average." That man is C. Linus Maxwell, who "ran a group of corporations that led the world in computer networking, satellite communications, and banking" and who has become known in the tabloids as "Climax-Well." They make for an improbable pair, particularly after his series of highly-publicized relationships with glamorous women, but it turns out that the mogul has long had big plans for Penny, ones that will show her not only the aptness of his nickname, but reveal to her his commercial plans "to enter the empty field of vaginas in a big way." Their relationship ends, and they soon find themselves antagonists, as Penny warns the women of the world that their sexual liberation represents a more insidious form of coercion, based on "the idea of combining ladies' two greatest pleasures: shopping and sex." By Palahniuk's standards, this is actually a subtle and empathic piece of work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385538046
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/21/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 15,185
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

CHUCK PALAHNIUK is the author of thirteen novels—Doomed, Damned, Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Diary, Lullaby, Choke, Invisible Monsters, Survivor, and Fight Club—which all have sold more than five million copies in the United States. He is also the author Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit him on the web at chuckpalahniuk.net.

Biography

Readers of Chuck Palahniuk's novels must gird themselves for the bizarre, the violent, the macabre, and the just plain disturbing. Having done that, they can then just enjoy the ride.

The story goes that Palahniuk wrote Fight Club out of frustration. Believing that his first submission to publishers (an early version of Invisible Monsters) was being rejected as too risky, he decided to take the gloves off, so to speak, and wrote something he never expected to see the light of day. Ironically, Fight Club was accepted for publication, and its subsequent filming by directory David Fincher earned the author an obsessive cult following.

The apocalyptic, blackly humorous story of a loner's entanglement with a charismatic but dangerous underground leader, Fight Club was the first in a series of controversial fiction that would keep Palahniuk in the spotlight. Since then, he has crafted strange, disturbing tales around unlikely subjects: a disfigured model bent on revenge (the revised Invisible Monsters) ... the last surviving member of a death cult (Survivor) ... a sex addict who resorts to a bizarre restaurant scam to pay the bills (Choke) ... a lethal African nursery rhyme (Lullaby) ... and so the list continues.

Although Palahniuk makes occasional forays into nonfiction, (e.g., Fugitives and Refugees and Stranger than Fiction), it is his novels that generate the most buzz. His outré plots and jump-cut storytelling are definitely not for everyone—some have likened them to the horrible accident you can't tear your eyes away from—but even critics can't help but be impressed by his flair for language, his talent for satire, and his sheer originality. Newsday wrote, "Palahniuk is one of the freshest, most intriguing voices to appear in a long time. He rearranges Vonnegut's sly humor, DeLillo's mordant social analysis, and Pynchon's antic surrealism (or is it R. Crumb's?) into a gleaming puzzle palace all his own."

Palahniuk has said that he has heard a lot from readers who were never readers before they saw his books, from boys in schools where his books are banned. This might be the best evidence that Palahniuk is a writer for a new age, introducing a (mostly male) audience to worlds on the page that usually only exist in technicolor nightmares.

Good To Know

Palahniuk (pronounced paul-a-nik) worked as a diesel mechanic for a trucking company before he became an author, jotting story notes for The Fight Club under trucks he was supposed to be working on.

Palahniuk's family has had a sad history of violence: His grandfather killed his grandmother and then committed suicide; later in life, his divorced father was murdered in 1999 by a girlfriend's ex-husband. The killer was convicted and sentenced to death in October, 2001. Palahniuk's book, Choke, was driven by an attempt to look at how sexual compulsion can destroy (see essay below for more).

When not working on his novels, Palahniuk has written features for Gear magazine, through which he befriended shock rocker Marilyn Manson; and is reportedly working on a script of the Katie Arnoldi novel Chemical Pink for Fight Club director David Fincher.

While writing, Palahniuk has said he listens to Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Radiohead.

To a reader who asked in a Barnes & Noble.com chat why the novel Invisible Monsters was not released in hardcover, Palahniuk responded: "My original request was not to have any of my books released as hardcovers b/c I felt guilty asking for over $20 for anything I had done. With Invisible Monsters I finally got my way."

Invisible Monsters was inspired by fashion magazines Palahniuk was reading at his laundromat, according to an interview with The Village Voice. "I love the language of fashion magazines. Eighteen adjectives and you find the word sweater at the end. 'Ethereal. Sacred.' I thought, Wouldn't it be fun to write a novel in this fashion magazine language, so packed with hyperbole?"

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles M. Palahniuk
    2. Hometown:
      Portland, Oregon
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 21, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Pasco, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in journalism, University of Oregon, 1986
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2014

    Over a little more than the last year, I've read all of Chuck Pa

    Over a little more than the last year, I've read all of Chuck Palahniuk's books. I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of them but some, for example, Pygmy, not so much.  So, of course, I dutifully pre-ordered Beautiful You.  Unfortunately, Beautiful You is more Pygmy than Choke or Lullaby or Rant.  It's kind of a one trick pony and very predictable.  A reviewer on another site found consolation in the fact that it is a short read at 222 pages.  Even at that, it took me an uncharacteristically  long time to get through it.  The writing just lacks the vibrancy of most of his other novels.  If you are already a Palahniuk fan, by all means, read it and decide for yourself.  If you are just trying him for the first time, this isn't the place to start.   

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2014

    This book is CLASSIC PALAHNIUK! I LOVED IT! I burned through it

    This book is CLASSIC PALAHNIUK! I LOVED IT! I burned through it in a day! I agree that if you have never read any of his work, you might want out a little less traumatic as this piece will be a BRUTAL shock to some readers! At times he had me writhing in the characters pain and sharing their extasy! Only a couple times I felt as if he over wrote a scene. It was the cave dwelling parts seemed a bit of a stretch. Maybe possibly when the crone shows up at the church??? A bit over played? All in all its a CRAZY RIDE that every Chuck Palahniuk fan has to take! Best have some Pink Champagne close whilst you are reading! Just not the cheap stuff...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2014

    I bought this book during a signing. People were saying great th

    I bought this book during a signing. People were saying great things about Chuck Palahniuk's writings. The story line caught my attention, however, the only reason I finished the book is because I thought it would get better. The author describes details about his characters and the inventions which he seems to forget about by the end of the book. I often found myself saying, “What? That doesn’t make sense.” It was confusing and unbelievable. The main female characters were very unbelievable. This could have been a good book if it had been better developed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2014

    good book

    Oh boy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2014

    Ugh. None of the characters were very fully developed or were c

    Ugh. None of the characters were very fully developed or were confusingly described. Was the antagonist a charming seducer or a cold scientist? The protagonist was even less developed. Premise is intriguing but some of the plot elements (the sex witch for instance living up on Mt Everest) were just too fantastical for my tastes. I have the bad habit of reading books even I dislike all the way through, always hoping for a payback. The ending was silly, so no payback.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2014

    I enjoyed the book to an extent, but a lot of it was too cliche.

    I enjoyed the book to an extent, but a lot of it was too cliche. We expect from Palahniuk a kind of writing that pushes beyond the boundaries of what most people are comfortable with reading.  This book does just that, but its to a point that's almost more irritating than anything. Come on Chuck... The ability to shoot a literal hyper audio beam from a vagina? A 200 year old sex mystic? Flaming dildos that destroy the city? All in all, the book just seemed too much like Palahniuk was running out of decent ideas. 3 stars because Palahniuk still blew my mind away with how he describes detail in writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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