Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Consumed

Consumed by David Cronenberg
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bookshelves: unnatural-appetites, horror

”Speaking the words seemed to release them into a void in which they could evaporate unexpectedly; writing them seemed to encase them safely within our skulls, where they could leisurely ripen.”

Aristide and Celestine Arosteguy are celebrated French philosophers as famous for their sexual escapades as for their contributions to a fundamental better understanding of life. They are no longer in their prime, but their attraction for each other is still sustaining, in fact, it is evolving.

”I at first willed my aesthetic for womanly beauty to change in order to accommodate her transformation, so that she remained as beautiful and desirable as ever before, though she was different. And the difference itself became provocative and exciting, as though sex with her was also sex with a new, exotic person who demanded new sexual protocols and new perversities until I didn’t have to will that change anymore because that aesthetic had permanently changed.”

So instead of going out and finding a younger version of Celestine, Arosteguy evolved his conception of female beauty to include the very natural changes that aging creates in the body. Celestine is still beautiful and sexy even in her early sixties.

”Celestine’s body had reminded Naomi of the famous sequence of photos of the nude Simone de Beauvoir taken by the American photographer Art Shay in a Chicago apartment’s bathroom. They both had the same good muscular rump, slightly heavy legs showing age-puckering behind the knees, and slim waist….”

There is a great interview with Simone de Beauvoir that also has the pictures that Art Shay took of her. The pictures that Naomi are referencing are at the bottom of the interview. Here is the link: https://articulosparapensar.wordpress...

Everything is going fine. They are having sex with pretty much everyone they want to. People are enamored with them or maybe more so with their reputations. There is certainly curiosity about what it would be like to have sex with the celebrated couple. After all, with those brilliant minds and their vast experiences, sex would have to reach some new plateau unreachable with an average sexual partner.

Did I say everything was going fine? Well, except for the fact that Celestine is convinced that a hive of insects is nested in her left breast. This disturbance in her head is not Apotemnophilia or Body Integrity Identity Disorder, but it is certainly some subset of those mental illnesses.

Things spiral out of control in ways that only two elite, intellectual minds can conceive.

Nathan is a medical journalist who chases down unusual stories regarding illness. His girlfriend Naomi is also a journalist who looks for any stories of the weird or the bizarre. They are neurotically tech savvy. David Cronenberg highlights gadgets even mentioning the brand names and all those beautifully reassuring letters and numbers designating the model number. This was annoying to some reviewers, but for me it just lent more authenticity to the fact that these two journalists are serious tech nerds.

Naomi is chasing down the story on Arosteguy in Japan. Nathan is in Toronto temporarily staying with a Doctor Roiphe who is famous for lending his name to an STD that Nathan recently acquired while sleeping with someone he was writing about. Naomi and Nathan both believe in being embedded or should I say emBEDded with their sources.

The stories of both reporters overlap when Roiphe’s daughter proves to be connected with Celestine and Arosteguy. Chase Roiphe has a particular disorder that has her slicing off pieces of her body... sushi style.

Yeah, anything you can think of, someone is doing it to themselves for entertainment purposes.

Nathan and Naomi are exchanging reports about what they are discovering about their sources. Both are starting to have thoughts they’ve never had before. The association with these people, who are beyond just uninhibited, are having detrimental influences. These people are psychologically damaged to the point that nothing can just be normal anymore. Everything has to be a stretched to new levels of sensory excess.

”His hands were powerful around her long neck. Her face was twisted into a beautiful, open-mouthed, terrifying expression of ecstasy, and the fantasy-Nathan knew that it was the end of sex, that there could be no more sex after this sex.”

Pushing the boundaries are fun. It releases all kinds of cool chemicals in our brains and gives us a sense of euphoria that can become a drug. Some people have to physically work out every day, sometimes several times a day, because endorphins are like candy to their brains. Dopamine plays a role in every addiction we have. When dating your spouse you were probably floating in a sea of dopamine (you dope :-)) If you wonder why your wife looked like Ingrid Bergman for the first two years you knew her...well you probably need to blame dopamine. If your husband looked like Cary Grant...well that was probably dopamine too. Regarding your relationship if you hear yourself saying...I must have been crazy...you probably were, or at least dopamine was giving everything a soft focus that impaired your ability to make rational decisions.

It’s okay though, it is all part of nature’s plan for reproduction.

So what happens if you have done everything you can think of to trigger all those wonderful chemicals in your brain? Nothing is working anymore. Desperation is now your sidecar companion. You are doing things you would have never considered doing before and they are starting to feel not only acceptable, but normal. You are addicted to “deviant” behavior.

David Cronenberg is best known for being a Hollywood director. His films tend to focus on body horror. A great example is Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. I’ve also watched his films History of Violence and Crash, but I realized as I was researching his body of work, before reading this book, that there are several films of his that I still need to see.

In this book he certainly continues to explore his obsession with what can happen to the human body, to the human mind, and what horrors we are capable of perpetrating on ourselves. This book was strangely compelling. I could not stop reading it despite at times shuddering over the gruesome depiction of events. The ending felt a little abrupt, not that he left things dangling, I just could have used a few more pages to let my jumbled neurons relax and a cool down period to let my tensed muscles unclench. This book will unnerve you, but at the same time it is a cautionary tale about letting your mind and your desire take you too far.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Reading Progress

December 7, 2014 – Started Reading
December 7, 2014 – Shelved
December 10, 2014 – Finished Reading
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: unnatural-appetites
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: horror

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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message 1: by Rayroy (last edited Dec 12, 2014 04:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rayroy I watched Dead Ringers last weekend, when I started reading Consumed, I hope to finish reading it this weekend , after which I think I'll go on a David Cronenberg film bender, and as always I enjoyed reading your review. The characters and their environments are a bit cold , I think maybe their cold by design, as not not get in the way of the ideas in the book. I like what David Cronenberg has to say about brand loyalty and consumerism, Nathan and Noami's use of Nikon cameras, how they bound over the fact that Nikon is there first choice.


Jeffrey Keeten Rayroy wrote: "I watched Dead Ringers last weekend, when I started reading Consumed, I hope to finish reading it this weekend , after which I think I'll go on a David Cronenberg film bender, and as always I enjoy..."

I am setting myself up for a David Cronenberg festival as well. I have definitely been neglecting his work. I agree the characters are cold and that DC did that on purpose. I think he wanted a clinical exploration of all these psychological manifestations. Thanks Rayroy!


message 3: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell Awesome review Jeffrey! The moment I saw David Cronenberg's name in the title, I just had to see what this book was all about and your review has definitely gotten me interested in this book!


message 4: by Rayroy (last edited Dec 13, 2014 12:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rayroy I finished reading it a few minutes ago, need a day or two to gather my thoughts, I will say that I was surprised that all the brand descriptions and descriptions of technology didn't boggle it down for me,as I first thought it would 20 pages in, DC had profound things to say on how media can control and change facts to fit what they want you to know and hide what they don't want you to know, I also did not know that 3-D printing was a real thing.


message 5: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala Can I admit to skipping some of your paragraph, Jeffrey? I'm no lover of Sartre but what a roasting for a guy to get! And de Beauvoir? When all's said and done, and with full respect for the prime of life, I want to say, please, D Cronenberg, be a bit more creative about disguising the sources of your inspiration... ;-)


Jeffrey Keeten Ronyell wrote: "Awesome review Jeffrey! The moment I saw David Cronenberg's name in the title, I just had to see what this book was all about and your review has definitely gotten me interested in this book!"

It is a fascinating, quick, entertaining read. I hope you like it. Thanks Ronyell!


Jeffrey Keeten Rayroy wrote: "I finished reading it a few minutes ago, need a day or two to gather my thoughts, I will say that I was surprised that all the brand descriptions and descriptions of technology didn't boggle it dow..."

You must have missed the episode of Big Bang Theory on 3D printing. :-) I think he is making a statement about a lot of things, much more than what I covered in the review. It is a book that could have a wide range of differing reviews written about it.


Jeffrey Keeten Fionnuala wrote: "Can I admit to skipping some of your paragraph, Jeffrey? I'm no lover of Sartre but what a roasting for a guy to get! And de Beauvoir? When all's said and done, and with full respect for the prime ..."

What an interesting statement! Why would Cronenberg disguise his influences? He leaves beautiful clues about all his influences throughout the book. Maybe this is a homage to all who have influenced his films as well. Are you suggesting that writers should disguise their influences and that will somehow make their work more original? I don't really believe there is such a thing as "original" certainly nothing exists without ties to other thoughts and other concepts. Anything that would be thought to be "original" is really more of a nuance of many other established thoughts. I like it when writers or artists give a nod of the head to those that have influenced them. As always Fionnuala you are an "inspiration" for further thought for this reader. :-)


message 9: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala Jeffrey wrote: "Are you suggesting that writers should disguise their influences and that will somehow make their work more original?..."

Of course not, Jeffrey - it's not about originality. It's about taking the details of the lives of two real people and rewriting them. It's about respect for the people whose life details inspire the artist. There has to be a way to be inspired by them without violating them. Do you see what I mean? And when I said I skipped some paragraphs, it was because I didn't want to know the details of Cronenberg's manipulation of their lives.


Jeffrey Keeten Fionnuala wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Are you suggesting that writers should disguise their influences and that will somehow make their work more original?..."

Of course not, Jeffrey - it's not about originality. It's ..."


I will have to give that more thought. He certainly would have had more responsibility if he had used their actual names and set this book in the proper time period. I think this is about a pair of philosophers that are influenced by De Beauvoir and Sartre more so than a depiction of the lives of those philosophers. I didn't do a very good job of explaining that in this review. It was actually a difficult book for me to review. I will defer to your depth of knowledge as to whether Sartre or De Beauvoir would feel violated. I don't think it was Cronenberg's intention to be disrespectful.


message 11: by Fionnuala (last edited Dec 13, 2014 08:49AM) (new)

Fionnuala Jeffrey wrote: "...I don't think it was Cronenberg's intention to be disrespectful.."

I'm sure it wasn't and things strike us all differently. I don't know what Sartre or de Beauvoir would actually think - and here I am imagining they would be indignant or feel violated so in a way I'm as bad as Cronenberg - ascribing feelings that they might well disown.
And as you say, his characters are a pair of philosophers influenced by S and de B rather than being them, but still...
And I can well imagine that it must have been a difficult book to review..


message 12: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell Jeffrey wrote: "Ronyell wrote: "Awesome review Jeffrey! The moment I saw David Cronenberg's name in the title, I just had to see what this book was all about and your review has definitely gotten me interested in ..."

You're welcome! :D


message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Adamson I heard that consumed was a good book? Is that true


Jeffrey Keeten Fionnuala wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "...I don't think it was Cronenberg's intention to be disrespectful.."

I'm sure it wasn't and things strike us all differently. I don't know what Sartre or de Beauvoir would actuall..."


Well I think the fact that you care about what Sartre or de Beauvoir would think is pretty damn cool. I have those moments where an author throws a petty comment into his work about another author and it has me muttering about disrespectful twits. :-)


message 15: by Samadrita (new)

Samadrita Truly disturbing! Not my kind of book but the review made for delightful reading as ever.

P.S.:-I realized now why I have always made a conscious effort to avoid Cronenberg movies.


Jeffrey Keeten Samadrita wrote: "Truly disturbing! Not my kind of book but the review made for delightful reading as ever.

P.S.:-I realized now why I have always made a conscious effort to avoid Cronenberg movies."


I completely understand. He tends to focus on the more unsavory elements of being a human being. Thanks Samadrita! I'm glad you enjoyed the review!


message 17: by Poet Gentleness (new)

Poet Gentleness Sir JK,
Although I love Cronenberg's films, Sartre, de Beauvoir and your reviews, this book I'll have to pass.
Not my kind of eroticism and I have been listening to cautionary tales along these lines for too long to enjoy reading about them...

Despite it all, your witty and humorous review made me laugh out loud and think hard.

I don't know about Cary Grant (not my generation's celebrity), but I wonder why, oh why(!), my husband has never looked like Richard Gere or George Clooney? Not now, nor 22 years ago... and I appreciate him more and more each passing day.

Hmm, Sir Jeffrey, am I missing something? Should I call my physician?

Yours,
Lady Cris :)


Jeffrey Keeten Cristiane wrote: "Sir JK,
Although I love Cronenberg's films, Sartre, de Beauvoir and your reviews, this book I'll have to pass.
Not my kind of eroticism and I have been listening to cautionary tales along these li..."


Lady Cris,

I think a growing appreciation for your husband trumps romance (although I'm sure he still has his romantic moments too) any day of the week and twice on Sunday. :-)

This was an odd choice for me as well, but I decided that it might be an interesting journey into the mind of Cronenberg by taking the back roads of print instead of the well lighted highways of the cinema. I'm glad I read it, but perfectly understand your feelings about immersing yourself in this deviant behavior. :-)

The reason I used Cary Grant is because I do believe he is probably one of the suavist and most elegant men to ever grace the cinema, but Richard Gere or George Clooney would have worked as well.

Always good to hear from the Lady from Brazil.

Sir JK


message 19: by Joe (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joe Valdez Fantastic review, Jeffrey. I'm pushing this novel way up my reading list. I'm not much more of a David Cronenberg fan than you seem to be--I wish I flipped out for Videodrome or Eastern Promises like other people do--but his work only gets better and better the more time I have to think about how it made me feel.


Jeffrey Keeten Joe wrote: "Fantastic review, Jeffrey. I'm pushing this novel way up my reading list. I'm not much more of a David Cronenberg fan than you seem to be--I wish I flipped out for Videodrome or Eastern Promises li..."

I'm a reluctant Cronenberg fan. As you pointed out it is about the residual affects of watching his movies that makes him so compelling. I'll never forget the pistolhand in Videodrome. Of course Woods seems to always leave an impression with me no matter what movie he is in. Thanks Joe. I hope you enjoy this one. Like his films the reviews of this book have been mixed.


Michele Just reading this book now - thanks for the review on it. One issue - The French philosopher couple Ari and Celestine's last name is Arosteguy.


Jeffrey Keeten Michele wrote: "Just reading this book now - thanks for the review on it. One issue - The French philosopher couple Ari and Celestine's last name is Arosteguy."

Yes that is true, but throughout the book Cronenberg refers mostly to him by his last name and refers to her by her first name. So yes, I did know their last name is Arosteguy.


message 23: by Sachin tendulkar (new)

Sachin tendulkar Great review


Jeffrey Keeten Sachin tendulkar wrote: "Great review"

Thanks Sachin!


message 25: by Britton (new) - added it

Britton Wow, those main characters don’t remind me of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouvier at all. Have you seen any of his movies? I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen, particularly A History of Violence.


Jeffrey Keeten LostKnight wrote: "Poignant review. Thanks."

Thanks LostKnight!


Jeffrey Keeten Britton wrote: "Wow, those main characters don’t remind me of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouvier at all. Have you seen any of his movies? I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen, particularly A History of Violence."

I've seen a lot of Cronenberg movies. Sartre and DeBouvier explored the boundaries or the lack of boundaries regarding sex. The characters in this book are influenced by their writings.


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