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Beauty by Brian D’Amato

15790879Jamie Angelo is part artist and part alchemist. His plastic surgery techniques are light-years beyond modern medicine. He can transform a haggard face into a masterpiece of ageless beauty. He is not God. But he is close.

To ambitious models like Jaishree Manglani, Jamie is the ultimate fantasy-a master illusionist who can turn her dream of eternal youth into reality. Until the truth about Jami’s “art” and “science” is revealed, and a nightmare ensues. Because if there’s no such thing as perfect beauty, Manhattan’s king of beauty might just be the gatekeeper of something other than human.

“From its daringly abstract opening page, BEAUTY establishes a strikingly original mood and voice that never falters through the final sentence … chapter by chapter there is a growing sense of dread that is absolutely irrestistible … at the same time, BEAUTY is often darkly hilarious, as darly comic as any book I’ve ever read. The best first novel I’ve read in a decade.” (Dean Koontz )”I’ve never read anything like BEAUTY before … It’s almost breathtakingly self-assured, and this confidence, which is a matter of an absolutely candid, knowing voice, takes us almost immediately into the novel’s world … When a writer’s voice is as compelling as Brian D’Amato’s, you have to follow him no matter where he’s going…It’s also satisfying, I mean really satisfying, to read a novel so bristling and humming with intelligence.” (Peter Straub )

“Wonderfully fresh … superb … Anyone who had a visceral reaction to Psycho may experience a similar feeling on reading this.” (Chicago Sun-Times )

My Review

This story has a captivating and engrossing will also elements of the haunting and scary on beauty that would have you either reconsider facial surgery, for cosmetic reasons, or run to the phone to book an op. I love thew way the author has sculptured this main character a lover of beauty and an artist who loves to recreate the face. The story reels you in with the first person narrative of the voice of the character, he hypnotically takes you under his wing in a Humbert, from Lolita, like style. This was well researched a story of fiction, filled with references and musings on pre-Columbian art and culture, that could not be far from the truth, the real world we live today. Death becomes her fans would love this and The Fly come to think of it when considering the goings wrong side of cosmetic surgery featured within this tale. A real good story that leaves you with plenty of food for thought and chills in your spine.

Before you run to the knife think twice after reading Beauty by Brian D’Amato

“It’s just too disturbing for people. I mean, people can deal with knowing that you’ve had a lift, or whatever, but if they find out that your whole face isn’t really alive at all, it’s just plastic, they’re liable to get grossed out. 1 get grossed out by it myself sometimes.” They looked at me. “I mean, when I see the people I’ve done, sometimes it just flashes into my head that they aren’t really alive, and I get all weirded out by it.”

“But this was going to be one of the strangest faces ever. It really was
abstract. All the time I’d put in as an abstract artist was paying off in this
figurative project. I was working on such a basic level, with the basic sign of human existence. What was it about eyes, nose, and mouth that was so important? Eyes, nose, and mouth are some sort of basic metaphor for the structure of the universe—or did I say this before?

I felt I was going to be the last artist to relive that experience that Balzac
was talking about, the experience of creating ideal facial beauty, in a meaningful way. I was going to be Leo, Mike, and Raph for the last time. I was the first to do what they did, in a twentieth-century way. A
twenty-first-century way. Suddenly there was a reason for all the beauty lore I had internalized for so long and had then realised had no place in the art of the present. I’d made it a place.”

“A mole.
Of course. What would Marilyn or Madonna or Cindy Crawford be without their moles? Nothing, I thought. Or a lot less. It’s interesting that moles are called “beauty marks.” What was it about them that made them so alluring? Are they like a sign that you can approach the goddess?

I spent a long time composing its position, but I finally decided the black spot would go nearly a centimeter above the left corner of her lip. A hair off to the left. The abstract element would round out her effect. It would make her unique and human and sexy and somehow pathetic. Because a mole is an intimation of death.”

“Socrates says:
Beauty is certainly a soft, smooth, slippery thing, and therefore of a nature which easily slips in and permeates our souls.

I read a lot of Baudelaire. He had a darker take on the issue. He was good on the cruelty of beauty:
I am beautiful mortals, as a dream in stone,
My breasts kill each man in his turn, and they Were made to inspire in every poet his own Great love,
as silent and eternal as clay.
Because,
to fascinate my love-slaves,
I Have mirrors which make every object bright:
My eyes, my giant eyes’ eternal light!

The eyes thing again. Eyes really were the seat of beauty. Like the Elizabeth Taylor thing. Eyes, large eyes, doe-like eyes, eyes are so weird, they don’t look like anything else to do with bodies or fleshiness or anything, they’re round and abstract, and they come in strange colours, white and black and green.
What was so magical about large eyes? Maybe ever are just magical in general and bigger eyes are more magical. Of course, bigger eyes make you look younger. But they’re also the windows of the soul, you know, so when you have big eyes, you’re intimate with everyone, because they can see into your soul, I’d been reading too much.”

“I was elated, like I was on Xtasy. Imagine having the power to give people a second chance. To give them almost eternal youth. I could turn straw into gold. Something out of nothing. I could give beauty, fame, money, power—it was incredible. It was as though I were Ponce de Leon and I had discovered the Fountain of Youth. I was a God. And I was immortal, I was a shape-changer. A werewolf, a vampire, a skin-switcher. I could be anything I wanted to be, anyone at all.”

“Minaz is my design. She’ll be the first in a race of cyborgs, half-human, half-technology Uber-beings. The new order of man. The dawn of a new age.”

 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 13 March 2013