I had one question going through my mind while reading this novel. Is Virginie Despentes the “female Chuck Palahniuk” or is Chuck Palahniuk the “male Virginie Despentes”? The styles of these two authors are remarkably similar, as is the sensibility in their work. But it turns out this novel was originally released in France in 1993 while Palahniuk’s debut, “Fight Club” was released in 1996. I have no idea whether Chuck Palahniuk was influenced by this novel or not but I can say that fans of Palahniuk will really enjoy this stripped down, violent, transgressive work, which at times is extremely disturbing, as I’m sure it was meant to be. Another author comes to mind while reading this as well, the American Kathy Acker, who’s novels often stirred up as much controversy as this one did nearly twenty years ago.
The title alone should already clue you in for what’s in store. “Baise-Moi” translated into English is “Fuck Me” (not the “Rape Me” as it’s translated subtitle in the American edition says). It is the story of two women, one a victim of a brutal gang rape and the other a nihilist prostitute - who watches and masturbates to pornography incessantly, often times in full view of another - who decide to go on a murderous rampage, literally killing anyone who gets in their way, often times for no reason other than to watch them die (as the old Johnny Cash song once said).
They are in search of “the ultimate freedom” but you don’t really get the sense that they are seeking anything at all other than wanton destruction and mayhem. Pure nihilism. You can’t - and don’t want to - sympathize with either of these characters and I don’t know if the whole controversy stems from the fact that the author wants you to do just that or not. It could be the book’s graphic sex scenes that caused the big stink. As a story, it’s okay. Not a great one but a good one, very reminiscent of the blood and carnage you’d see in a Quentin Tarantino film and there is no doubt in my mind that this novel was influenced by the filmmaker in some way.
Think of this as a “Punk Rock Thelma & Louise”. That is the best description I can give to this highly charged and at times highly disturbing novel. Like it or not, you will remember it.