Virginie Despentes - King Kong Theory (4 stars)

Virginie Despentes - King Kong Theory

(Serpent’s Tail)


If ever there was an antidote to the pointless posturing of the Pussycat Dolls, it’s the work of Virginie Despentes. While they embody everything that is wrong about being female in the 21st century, this controversial French author, probably best known for her rape-revenge novel turned film Baise-Moi, sets her sights on saving us all from the demeaning, idiotic ‘icons’ we’re sold on a daily basis, and she does it here in a thought-provoking and cleverly written way. King Kong Theory, her latest modern feminist missive/searing social commentary, is both deeply personal and a universally relevant read, telling sobering tales of rape, prostitution and the porn industry from the author’s own experience, with references to everyone from Virginia Woolf, Simone De Beauvoir and Camille Paglia to Courtney Love and over 40 years of feminist literature and media propaganda.

‘As a girl I am more King Kong than Kate Moss’, Despentes exclaims in her bold opening gambit, sparks flying off her punchily written prose, as she gives us an entirely unique take on the world. It’s loud, raw and almost brutally direct, yet stylistically the writing is accomplished and sophisticated; perpetually fiery, yes, but never hysterical or overly-preachy. Perhaps most importantly, Despentes makes insightful, intelligent, witty and pioneering comments in a language that is accessible to everyone. ‘I come from the world of punk rock and I am proud of not fitting in’, she asserts in the book’s brave and utterly convincing conclusion. Long live the misfit.