A few weeks ago I went to see the new Cronenberg movie, Maps to the Stars. I really liked the movie. It was disturbing, but in a good way. So when I found out that Cronenberg had just written a novel as well, I thought let’s give it a shot!The novel is called Consumed and it tells the story of two photojournalists (Nathan and Naomi) who are also lovers. Both pursue weird people, all in order to get the next scoop. Nathan starts off with visiting an unlicensed surgeon in Budapest, who has a weird interest in treating women with cancer. While learning about the surgeon’s work, he eventually sleeps with one of the cancer patients, trying to capture the feeling of making love to an almost dead women. This book was turning out much more disturbing then I thought. Nathan contracts a rare STD from this sexual encounter with a dying women, called Roiphe’s disease. This leads to Nathan travelling to Canada to find the man who discovered the disease. Dr. Roiphe however is dealing with his own problems, trying to cure his adult daughter dealing with cannibalistic tendencies.
Naomi goes her own weird way, pursuing a group of Marxist and Sexual Libertines and ends up staying in the home of a man who killed and ate his former lover.
After setting up all of this weirdness, the book continues in a boring pace, going on about insects living in people’s bodies and more body horror stuff. The ending is pretty interesting, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered and comes on a bit abrupt. The book is very filmic, and some of the scenes might be more interesting as visuals. It’s clear that Cronenberg is a good filmmaker, but as a novelist, I’m not sure if I like him. This book is definitely not for the weak. If you have an interest in disturbing novels about sex, insects, cannibals and more sex, than this is a must read for you. If that doesn’t appeal to you, go buy something else ;).
Review Copy attained through Netgalley with special thanks to the publisher Harper Collins.