Already hailed and persecuted for its perverse humor and wildly wicked sensibility, Undone is the tour-de-force black comedy by International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee John Colapinto.
In modern day America, Dez is a former lawyer and teacher — an ephebophile with a proclivity for teenage girls, hiding out in a trailer park with his latest conquest, Chloe.
Having been in and out of courtrooms (and therapists’ offices) for a number of years, Dez is adrift, at odds with a society that persecutes him over his desires. From his couch one afternoon, Dez watches an interview with Jasper Ulrickson, a doting father and loving husband whose heartrending memoir, Lessons from My Daughter, has become a national bestseller. The memoir chronicles his journey with his wife, Pauline, who suffered a stroke giving birth to their only child and has been in a locked-in state ever since. Espousing their deep connection and chaste marriage, Jasper’s selfless devotion to his wife has made him one of the most popular and admired men in America.
So Dez sets out to do what any red-blooded American would do: destroy Ulrickson by using Chloe to pose as the famous author’s long-lost daughter, infiltrate his family, seduce him, and, when he’s sent to jail, claim his fortune.
By turns sincere and wildly outlandish, precise and perverted, Undone will seduce readers as one of the most provocative publishing events of the summer.
“We plead biological necessity when caught straying. But that’s often just a convenient rationalization to explain away a moment of moral failure— of weakness. We can control ourselves.”
UNDONE is a weird, wild, thought-provoking and at times witty story. It is part erotic thriller, part suspense and all satire. I finished this book a few weeks ago and had to think about the story for a while. This is a very risky book that is certainly not for everyone but is a fascinating commentary on society’s obsession with celebrity and fame. UNDONE centers around Dez, a dangerous predator who is living with his former student, Chloe. Dez has a sick obsession with teenage girls, but totally rationalizes his unhealthy attraction and blames everyone else for his problems. He is smart but very, very troubled and borders on sociopathic. He ha convinced himself that his relationship with the teenage Chloe is almost normal.
“But on a deeper level, shielded, hidden, he recognized some profound connection between them. He felt an almost frightening reliance on her, an emotional dependence. The feeling was unprecedented for him and brought him a form of happiness.”
Dez becomes obsessed with Jasper, a famous author who has written a best-selling book about his family. Dez creates a diabolical scheme to destroy Jasper, enlisting the gullible Chloe in his plan. So begins a suspenseful story that literally rockets along to a stunning conclusion, filled with biting commentary, completely inappropriate characters and very, very taboo subjects.
There is no question that John Colapinto is a brilliant writer and that his prose and plot are flawless. BUT this book is NOT for the faint of heart or anyone who s offended by forbidden subjects! If you are looking for a standard romantic suspense novel, move along, because UNDONE is not for you. But if you love to read something different, incredibly creative and very challenging, then this is the book for you. Kudos to John Colapinto for tackling some very dangerous themes in an incredibly creative way. I found UNDONE to be enormously readable and I encourage anyone who loves something different to give this book a try.
On another note, I find it incredible that the author received over 40 rejection letters for this book! It is in no way the most taboo book I have ever read and I am glad that the publisher gave this book a chance.
(Copy gifted by the author in return for an honest review.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JOHN COLAPINTO is an award-winning journalist, author, and staff writer at The New Yorker, where he has written about subjects as diverse as medicinal leeches, Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer, fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Rick Owens, and Paul McCartney. Prior to this he wrote for Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine, and he was a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. His nonfiction book As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl was a New York Times bestseller and his debut novel, About the Author, was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He lives in New York City.