Danica's Reviews > The Debt to Pleasure

The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester
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Jun 15, 11

Read in June, 2011

At what point does a satirization of artistic vanity and overintellectualized nonsense itself become overintellectualized and nonsensical? I'm not sure, but The Debt to Pleasure crosses that line pretty early on. Reading this book reminded me very much of Nabokov's Lolita, for the comparable protagonists -- each book features a cunning sociopath bent on perpetuating a number of malignant ills, while self-justifying with an aesthete's solipsistic insulation from matters of real import. It also recalls American Psycho, for the way the mindnumbing style of writing defines each story's main character: monotonous declaratives spelling out an obsession with consumerism for one, self-cannibalizing academic rubbish affirmed by digressive sentences and a troupe of 20c words for the other. I'm not sure what the point of all this is, really. If it's to thoroughly alienate its readers, well then, success! No wonder I'd never heard of this book before, prior to picking it up.

All in all, reading this felt like watching a magic show on a shoestring budget -- so much manic wriggling of the fingers, so little tangible effect.
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