Cover image for The unfortunate importance of beauty : a novel
Title:
The unfortunate importance of beauty : a novel
Author:
Filipacchi, Amanda.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2015]
Physical Description:
332 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"A magical and comedic take on modern love, the power of friendship, and the allure of disguise. Meet the Knights of Creation, a group of artistic friends struggling with society's standards of beauty. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, chooses to don a fat suit in hopes that it will help her meet the man of her dreams- a man who can see beyond her looks. Lily, Barb's brilliantly talented, unfortunate-looking musician friend, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the shallow man she loves. Penelope, neither beautiful nor talented, makes her living by selling hideous clay pots after convincing customers they've broken them. To complicate matters, the friends discover they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb's calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Imbued with Amanda Filipacchi's characteristic twisted charm and absurdist, satiric wit, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty is touching, whimsical, and gorgeously strange. "Filipacchi [creates] magic out of thin air. . . . One of our best satirists."-Neil LaBute"--Publisher.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393243871
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A magical and comedic take on modern love, the power of friendship, and the allure of disguise.

In the heart of New York City, a group of artistic friends struggles with society's standards of beauty. At the center are Barb and Lily, two women at opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, but with the same problem: each fears she will never find a love that can overcome her looks. Barb, a stunningly beautiful costume designer, makes herself ugly in hopes of finding true love. Meanwhile, her friend Lily, a brilliantly talented but plain-looking musician, goes to fantastic lengths to attract the man who has rejected her--with results that are as touching as they are transformative.

To complicate matters, Barb and Lily discover that they may have a murderer in their midst, that Barb's calm disposition is more dangerously provocative than her beauty ever was, and that Lily's musical talents are more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Part literary whodunit, part surrealist farce, The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty serves as a smart, modern-day fairy tale. With biting wit and offbeat charm, Amanda Filipacchi illuminates the labyrinthine relationship between beauty, desire, and identity, asking at every turn: what does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?


Author Notes

Amanda Filipacchi is the author of three previous novels, Nude Men, Vapor, and, most recently, Love Creeps. Her writing has appeared in Best American Humor and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Filipacchi's (Love Creeps, 2005) fourth novel offers an astute, piercing look at the value society and individuals place on appearance. Five friends make up the artistic circle known as the Knights of Creation. Stunning Barb conceals her beauty in a fat suit and wig after the suicide of her best friend, Gabriel, who was hopelessly in love with her. Unattractive Lily uses haunting piano music to evoke desire. Fragile Penelope makes art so hideous she must trick customers into purchasing it. Prickly author Georgia's will to write is sapped after the laptop containing her new novel is stolen. Jack is a former police officer who rescued Penelope from a traumatic kidnapping. The Knights have just learned via a posthumous letter from Gabriel that one among them is a killer and that the killer is targeting Strad, the vain and shallow man for whom Lily is pining in vain. Barb concocts a plan to save Strad, while Lily works on composing a piece of music that will make her beautiful in Strad's eyes. There is power in beauty. That's the tragedy of it, Filipacchi observes in this wise, witty farce that is both impossible to put down and utterly dead-on in its assessment of human nature.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Filipacchi's fourth novel blithely upends the social constructs of beauty, desire, and art in her signature brisk, darkly comic style. As usual, Filipacchi taps the sleaze at its source: Manhattan. The focus is on a successful costumer designer named Barb and her group of artsy friends, the Knights of Creation: Georgia, a bestselling novelist; Lily, a talented pianist; beautiful socialite and would-be potter Penelope, who was once kidnapped; and Penelope's rescuer, ex-cop Jack. The fractured fairy tale of a plot turns on narrator Barb, who inherited her supermodel mother's jaw-dropping looks but has dressed in an elaborate disguise since she learned that her beauty drove her friend Gabriel to suicide, and Lily, whose face is "simply extremely ugly-the kind of ugliness that is inoperable," and who yearns to write a piece of music that will hypnotize her longtime crush, a bro-ish violinist named Strad. Filipacchi (Love Creeps) succeeds by loading this frothy plot with sharp surreal turns and layers of subversive meaning as Georgia's lost laptop mysteriously reappears, Lily's melodious powers of persuasion become supernaturally effective, and Gabriel warns in a postmortem letter to Barb that one of the Knights intends to kill Strad. The author's own mother, model Sondra Peterson, even makes a cameo, but while looks can kill, they're no match for Filipacchi's rapier wit. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Christina Delaine brings to life -Filipacchi's (Love Creeps) modern fairy tale, which examines Western culture's emphasis on physical beauty. In this darkly comic story, a group of talented friends call themselves the Knights of Creation. Finding they are more creative en masse, they regularly meet and pursue their individual arts. The group includes devastatingly beautiful costume designer Barb, who, traumatized by the suicide of her friend Gabe, wears a "fat" suit and frizzy wig to fend off any shallow men making overtures; wildly successful but unattractive composer Lily, who writes advertising music to "beautify" products and is deeply unhappy because of her unrequited love for fellow musician Strad; and Penelope, who makes unattractive pots that she foists on unsuspecting customers by accusing them of breaking them. To liven things up there is a murderer among them. This story is hard to classify: it is farcical and satirical, with elements of magical realism, yet at times it feels like an Agatha Christie drawing-room mystery. Delaine's deadpan delivery is spot-on for the subtle humor. Listeners will find themselves drawn in by the fantastic story, but what they will remember are the important questions raised about beauty. VERDICT Recommended.-Judy -Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.