Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book Review: Consumed by David Cronenberg

Consumed by David Cronenberg

Hardcover, 308 pages

Published September 2014 by Scribner

It's a generally a mixed bag when filmmakers write novels or novelist directs a film but in the end story telling is story telling. When it comes to off beat weird movies few do a better job than David Cronenberg. The Canadian one time master of horror broke out of the genre ghetto with films like Spider, History of Violence and Eastern Promises. I was not a huge fan of Dangerous Method but his last film Map to the Stars is very underrated. One thing you have to understand is he is a gifted writer. He has been writing films for a long long time. I was not surprised by the strength of Consumed.

I have heard some lament that it was not as weird as they had hoped for, not like A modern Videodrome as some had hoped. In many ways it is a return to form, in the sense that classic DC themes are explored and mined. I am not sure why DC choose this to be a novel and not a film, but this story is pretty Cronenberg. I mean it is a super bizarro erotic thriller that involves violence and disease. How is that not Cronenberg enough for anyone? that I don't understand.

The story starts with a mystery, our lead is a journalist Naomi who uses photos to investigate crimes investigates a murder. A famous french philosopher has murder and decapitated his wife. She heads to Japan where the man is hiding from the french government. There are reports that he actually cannibalized her body. Namoi's lover Nathan is also a photographer, who studies medicine and disease. Across the globe he is studying a man ravaged by new and strange disease. Over time they discover their cases are related.

It should also not be a surprise that this book is a slow burn. It was the sharp edges that Cronenberg told stories with in his early years that made him a cult film icon. Those edges are there but you are in the hands of the storyteller that evolved into the man who made Spider. It is not as slow of a burn as that film. This is carefully crafted novel that has many touches of DC's personality that come out in the descriptions of Technology and how we interface with it, and of course the bizarre sexuality.

It didn't blow me away and I am sure I would rather have more Cronenberg films than novel. None the less it is worth a read. If you are a serious Cronenbergian don't miss it.

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