I have already come to expect greatness from the publisher Snuggly Books.
This did not let me down. It is an intriguing descent into a particularly uncanny-valley subculture. It left me wondering where the name Sooki comes from. Urban Dictionary offers a number of possibilities. Turns out it is not an uncommon Eastern name. But I can’t help thinking I’ve missed a secret allusion to some obscure piece of media. Undoubtedly, dozens, if not hundreds of references within the book went over my head. It is a complex interweaving of experimental styles, product spoofs, characters satire, and pop culture commentary, all wrapped up nicely in a page-turning plot. While it goes completely off the rails during a fondue party, I was still strapped in for the remainder of the ride with my eyes stripped and almost extruding from their sockets. The celebrity cameo was delightful.
A specifically compelling aspect of the novel is how it pays homage to broken English pornographic advertising copy, inserting it like some kind of occult background incantation.
How rare is a novel combining the ideas and writing styles of 3 geniuses? It is not possible, in my opinion, in the current publishing industry and this modern age, to be more skilled at portraying magically real characters than these writers are. The many books they have produced all seem to possess a certain intangible dissociative reality at once disarming and irresistibly compelling.
Both vivid and transgressive, The Cutest Girl in Class is an examination of sexual commodification, which, in its various manifestations, often simultaneously discomforts and validates us. The extreme uses to which aesthetic pursuit might be pushed is explored in the form of real doll collecting, a pastime depicted with a startling degree of fidelity. The love for artificial reality pervades the blasted and ruined landscape of our modern consciousness as construed through a soul-siphoning dependency on substances, physicality, and the illusions our brain concocts to adapt to our environment. The inhuman gratifications of the simulated experiences bleed into the hedonistic reality of our anti-heroes, belittling their sense of self while they connive and indulge in equal measure. The inner folds of micro-delineated tactile sensations crackle through the well-polished prose. The galleries of painted geishas presented within convey the possibility of harems of daintily maintained dream-bots, semi-sentient, all-accepting, serving the omni-ravenous appetites of adolescent awe. The possessed idols of our de-aged hormonal fixations pull us into luscious intimacies through the gravitas of their silicon valleys, their exquisite inanimate, detachable tongues, the soft-fingered prongs of their jackknifed grip, their lock-jawed smiles and reptilian eyes.
Loneliness, isolation, the palaces of the interior. Connections: spiritual, physical and psychological,
cloaked in absurdity. Gangsters with very peculiar interests and a vast network of niche resources.
What makes us human? What degrades us and shoves us into realms of the inhuman, and what is to be found there? This novel pierces through the veil of propriety to the festering microcosm of the human imagination. Though I found the adolescent romance scenes less compelling, they were still well-written and woven into the overall plot, seeding it with a counterpoint of innocence, optimism, and chastity. Perhaps it was a missed opportunity not to give the reader a full chapter entirely from Sooki’s perspective, given the alternating perspectives that tweaked the lens of the narrative eye.
Idol-worship, entertainment, devotion to an artificial expression of desire and idealized beauty. conspiracy, paranoia, campy Yakuza-style subplots, and a dislocation from the everyday. We are each a subtle corpse, a barely zoetic masses of disparate particles, anchored into a substratum through faith in our continued existence.
I challenge you to explore the quirky and enigmatic avenues of this miraculous piece of fiction.