by Niall Griffiths - £8.99 Vintage (2014)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780099507680 | ISBN 10: 0099507684
Sixteen-year-old Grace may be from a small coastal village but she's not staying there. She has huge dreams, and knows from television and magazines that she can get to the big city, she can be a star, simply by changing from a duckling to a swan. It doesn't take much: a little silicone and surgery here and there - enhancement and augmentation - nose, breasts, lips, hair, teeth, nails. Then with the right clothes and a new tan she'll be ready: ready to be seen, consumed and adored by millions on YouTube, television and lifestyle magazines. Grace will become a celebrity.
Someone, though, remembers her as an ordinary, pretty schoolgirl living in a rural paradise: a place of simple, natural beauty. As school caretaker he once bandaged her knee when she fell, and now, when he sees how utterly Grace has changed, he sees clearly how far the world has fallen since those days - taking him with it. The collision of their two lives, their two very different trajectories, can only end in catastrophe.
Written with a raging, lyrical fury, this is a devastating satire on a society fixated on image and celebrity - how innocence and individuality are routinely sacrificed for the totems of sex and wealth and glamour: a magnificent howl of anger and despair at a culture disintegrating into a brittle cult of fame.
(Price & availability last checked: November 2014)
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