Item description for Baise Moi by Virginie Despentes...
Baise-Moi is one of the most controversial French novels of recent years, a punk fantasy that takes female rage to its outer limits. Now the basis for a hit underground film which was banned in France, Baise-Moi is a searing story of two women on a rampage that is part Thelma and Louise, part Viking conquest. Manu and Nadine have had all they can take. Manu has been brutally raped, and determines it's not worth leaving anything precious lying vulnerable -- including her very self. She teams up with Nadine, a nihilist who watches pornography incessantly, and they enact their own version of les vols et les viols (rape and pillage) -- they lure men sexually, use them up, then rob and kill them. Drawing from the spiky cadences of the Sex Pistols and the murderous eroticism of Georges Bataille or Dennis Cooper, Baise-Moi is a shocking, accomplished, and truly unforgettable novel.
Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at promiseangels.com!
Virginie Despentes was born in Paris in 1969, and now lives in Barcelona. Her previous books include Les Jolie Choses, Teen Spirit, Bye Bye Blondie and King Kong Theory. She co-directed a screen adaptation of her controversial novel, Baise-Moi in 2002.
Reviews - What do customers think about Baise Moi?
What Losing Means... Nov 18, 2007
As Stephen Colbert would say, "It's French, B*tch!" This book is kind of a parallel version of Thelma and Louise, only more explicit and less sympathetic. The two main characters, Manu, a down-and-out working-class woman who is brutally gang-raped along with a friend who is slain for cursing her assailants, and Nadine, a prostitute whose best friend is murdered, seemingly snap under the stress and injustices of their working-class city life and go on a maniacal killing and robbery spree, holding up strangers and killing anyone who gets in their path. They also have plenty of sex along the way.
The book is billed as a feminist response to violent literature, much of which is male-dominated, yet I think there's more to the story. In fact, I question whether it's really feminist at all. Interestingly, the first person Nadine kills is her uppity roommate, a woman, while Manu slays the thug who beat up her small-time pot-dealing friend/boyfriend and then the parole officer suspected of murdering her neighbor, along with his wife. In essence, the conflict is about class more than gender. The women only kill one of the men they have sex with, and the climax of the book is not when Nadine, the more restrained of the shooters, guns down a five year-old child, but rather when they kill a bourgeoisie architect in his own home after robbing him, despite the fact that he attempts to psychologically outwit them and get them to spare his life. "We just came to teach you what losing means," Manu tells him (p. 220).
This book was interesting, but it could have been better. The prose was a bit uneven, though to be fair I was reading a translation, so that may not be Despentes' fault. However, I also think the book read like a rough-draft. The writer revels in describing gore, guts, and sex, but never gives us a sense of where/who the characters are. Space that should have been devoted to explaining why the characters do what they do is instead lavished on the characters' talking about how cool it is that they are actually doing it and how they ought to come up with better lines to say before killing people, as though they are in a movie. It just seemed tasteless and tawdry, and while some have said that was part of the point, it just didn't work for me. A subplot about a side character who had an incestuous relationship with a parent should have been a chance for Despentes to comment on a serious problem faced by women (as well as men) when they have no power, instead becomes absurd and unrealistic when Manu says something to the effect of, 'That must be so cool to do it with your father'. All-in-all, this is a good blueprint for a book, but it's not a finished product. I'm not one to obsess over excessive drafting and redrafting of novels, but this book could have used more work. There's a lot to analyze here, but it could have been a better one and that's just frustrating.
Not impressed Jul 11, 2006
"Baise-Moi" (Rape Me), is billed as shocking and exhilarating however, I found it to be neither. Virginie Despentes' writing style (perhaps due to being translated) holds no shocks or punches. This novel is decently paced if at times it seems to be reaching for the shock value. At times the main characters, Nadine and Manu come off as caricatures of bad girl archetypes that are neither inventive nor are they new. I hope (and to give credit to Despentes) that when read in the original language the book retains more of a literary punch. Overall I was unimpressed with both the book and the hype.
You've misunderstood Dec 13, 2004
Virginie Despentes is an anti-stylist. In her prose, she tries to capture the rhythm of the popular, nonliterary mind. She's against aestheticism and the literary aesthetic, much like the avant-garde writer Cathy Acker was. What she hopes to do in this book is to enter directly into the minds of alienated, abject characters, without poeticizing them. This is a very difficult task, and she succeeds beautifully. The translator tried to match this naked, gritty voice as exactly as possible. Those readers who didn't like the book or its style obviously didn't get it, or had to shut their minds off to this harrowing experience of alienation. But this is a very human, deeply touching book. It's brave and uncompromising. The French understood this, but the book has been sadly neglected in this country.
Shocking and incendiary, but that's the point Jan 18, 2004
Virginie Despentes is a bit like the A.M. Homes of contemporary French literature--a young woman writer who doesn't really care who she offends with her work. She has another agenda, even if it's not immediately apparent to most readers.
This is the story of two young French women, Nadine and Manu, who live in the squalor of "les HLMs," the government-subsidized housing projects outside major French cities. Les HLMs are breeding ground for every kind of corruption--drug use, crime, violence, rape.
The two main characters finally snap when one of their friends is brutally raped, so they start off on a campaign of a little raping and pillaging of their own, seducing men, killing them, then stealing their money.
Despentes doesn't let anyone off the hook, neither the alleged victims or the alleged aggressors. Her point, it seems to me, is that people today can't help but be a little bit of both.
The style isn't particularly interesting or groundbreaking, but then again, it is a translation. Despentes isn't trying to be subtle and artful here, she's more interested in making a point.
This is the kind of book you'll either hate or appreciate for the point she's trying to make about contemporary French society and contemporary human beings.
Completely Unsuccessful Jan 17, 2004
This book is horribly written. I thought it would say something new about the first-world culture, about how women and men are both capable of enjoying sex, that S/M can be a positive thing. I was so wrong. This book says nothing, nothing, nothing at all, and it says it for about 230 pages. The kill-sex-kill-sex routine gets old fast. The main characters are so flat and lifeless that it's impossible to care about them. At first I wondered if the translation was the problem, but it's really the fact that Virginie Despentes cannot tell a decent story to save her life.
The movie got a lot of press because it starred porn actresses in the lead roles and only the violence was simulated. You should also know that Baise-moi most accurately translates not to "Rape Me", but to "F..k Me" (as an this site.com reviewer, I'm not allowed to curse). That's about all you need to know about this book. It's not stylish, nihilistic, or groundbreaking - it's just mindnumbingly boring, badly written, and ultimately pointless.