Rich Gamble's Reviews > I Look Divine

I Look Divine by Christopher Coe
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it was ok
bookshelves: vintage-contemporaries, 80s

It takes a lot of skill to write a book with an unlikeable character that people still want to read. Austen did it with Emma and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho also comes to mind. Nicholas who won’t be in photos and controls/manipulates all aspects of his image compulsively is not quite in the same league. This combined with a very tired ‘brother with the flashback’ structure make for a trying, if brief read.

This book contains way too much pointless jet setting and foreign culture references. Asia was quite in vogue in the 80s and one can’t help but cringe at how basic and shallow these references now seem. Jay Mcinerney’s Ransom is guilty of a similar indulgence but his wit and genuine passion for the culture redeems when read in context. Can’t say the same for Coe who drops way too kimono and netsuke references but also uses the unflattering terms ‘chink’ and Jap 6 and 4 times respectively on just one page (not just by the vain annoying brother either).

Where this book earns its two stars is in its reflections on the queer lifestyle. The side of Nicholas that I found interesting is how his life as a picture of beauty and constantly kept man gradually reversed with age until he finds himself paying for sex. The casual nitrate references and playful queer banter rang a lot truer than another Vintage Contemporary book I read: Dancing in the Dark although I liked that one more for its ambition and retro 80s feel. Coe’s physical descriptions of Nicholas somewhat remind me of Orlando Bloom as Legolas which is another interesting point you might like to reflect on before picking this up. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to make a more potent literary statement before his passing from Aids a few years after writing this.
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Reading Progress

February 22, 2012 – Shelved
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: vintage-contemporaries
February 22, 2012 – Shelved as: 80s
March 25, 2012 – Started Reading
March 25, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Chon (new)

Chon ahaha I can't wait for you to explain why.

Rich Gamble This title is certainly in need of a more thorough review. Reasons for bad rating are many and varied :)

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