16 September 2010

Foot Work

This story is told by Mother Nature, who is something of a hippie New Age type, with her long skirts, henna-painted skin and patchouli smell. She used to be a reflexologist, trained in treating medical conditions by massaging people's feet. It's not a lucrative career, but one day she meets a former classmate who now appears to be living an upper-class lifestyle. The classmate introduces MN to the world of "foot jobs," in which reflexologists use foot manipulation to give clients orgasms that leave them "to weak to walk for the next couple of days." In order to improve her financial situation, MN also gets into the business of foot jobs. At first, she earns a good amount of money, but she soon finds herself competing with too many other former idealists now turned high-priced call girls/guys and being in hock to the mafioso who acts as her pimp. Her friend introduces her to the next "dark side" application of reflexology, as an assassination technique. It is already too late for MN, who now has to go into hiding.

When Palahniuk is on his game, as he is here, he has a talent for coming up with amusingly twisted concepts that seem not entirely implausible. While not as horrific, claustrophobic or suspenseful as "Guts" the story still manages to create something of a paranoid vibe. It's world of reflexologist hit men, Reiki assassins, Feng Shui murder techniques, etc. suggests a darker, quasi-supernatural truth behind placid everyday reality. This story also continues the theme of people willing to employ rather odd means in order to better "get their rocks off."

One quick note: I'm leaving Post-Production, The Nightmare Box, Poster Child and Cassandra until the end. These four stories constitute their own, separate narrative, which can be thought of as the Cassandra Sequence.

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