Rainbows Suck – Madeleine Swann
“Oooooh, Fashion! We are the goon squad and we're coming to town. Beep-beep!” So sang David Bowie on Scary Monsters in 1980. I don't know whether Madeleine listened to this whilst writing her novella, Rainbows Suck, but I'd like to imagine so.
Tilli, a poor and almost destitute artist, is picked by an overlord group of sentient rainbows from outerspace to become a living piece of art. As she struggles to gain recognition as an art exhibit (exhibits which fail to be noticed are eradicated) she chooses to perform increasingly degrading sexual acts. She then catches the eye of Felicite, an already established work of art, and the two form a relationship.
This is British bizarro, my tentacled reader, we are in London, fashion and culture capital. But it's London as never seen before. There are familiar sign posts, museums, and dingy apartments, and journalists. But, there's weird here too, ubermensch rainbows for one.
So, what the hell is this book about? On the surface it seems like nothing what-so-ever. Evil rainbows and living art? But let's dig a little below the surface, shall we? Well to me, weirdly tentacled reader, this novella is about culture, and fashion, and celebrities and swings in the zeitgeist. That makes it a massively ambitious piece, and it's worth your time examining it.
We all now live in this celebrity culture. Madeleine starts there and, as all the best bizarro does, subverts it. She takes it too extremes. And then, tentacled reader, she starts to ask the questions. How far will celebrities go to keep that status? How far can art go? Is it even art any more? Remember, the art only lives whilst it's being observed and fawned over, if no one pays attention then it is killed. Isn't that a lot like our current celebrity culture? Kayne West only survives if you pay him attention.
“Listen to me – don't listen to me. Talk to me – don't talk to me. Beep-beep” sings David Bowie, prophetic in my view.
So, there's a brand new dance, tentacled reader, and Madeleine is playing the tune. Does everything work in this novella? No. Some of the imagery is a bit confused and sometimes we lose a bit of focus and pacing. But that doesn't mean there isn't a whole load of stuff to enjoy in here.
I thoroughly enjoyed it Madeleine, Beep-beep!