Under the Skin
By Michel Faber
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151006267, 320pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2000
List Price: $23.00*
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Isserley picks up hitchhikers with big muscles. She, herself, is tiny-like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. She has a remarkable face and wears the thickest corrective lenses anyone has ever seen. Her posture is suggestive of some spinal problem. Her breasts are perfect; perhaps implants. She is strangely erotic yet somehow grotesque, vulnerable yet threatening. Her hitchhikers are a mixed bunch of men-trailer trash and travelling postgrads, thugs and philosophers. But Isserley is only interested in whether they have families and whether they have muscles. Then, it's only a question of how long she can endure her pain-physical and spiritual-and their conversation. Michel Faber's work has been described as a combination of Roald Dahl and Franz Kafka, as Somerset Maugham shacking up with Ian McEwan. At once humane and horrifying, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory-our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion. A grotesque and comical allegory announcing the arrival of an exciting talent, rich and assured.