Otto and Cecil are well-endowed teenage brothers who enjoy ‘having it off’. Rarely has an expression stood for such a range of depravity. The pair draw blood, vomit, fuck and murder as a matter of course. Holed up in the Buckinghamshire countryside, they seek entertainment through provocation: they goad their homicidal family, traumatise unwitting servants and deliver incendiary correspondence to various convicts, from a ‘hulking yob’ to a ‘nasty nonce’. They pass the time watching nature programmes narrated by David Attenborough – amusingly misidentified as his brother Richard – which provides them with handy bestial metaphors for their grisly, erotic impulses.
Chuck Palahniuk is renowned for the transgressive qualities of his fiction. True to form, this book is dominated by macabre and obscene descriptions. It’s all plainly overblown, but the voice has an arresting confidence. Punchy turns of phrase and short chapters depict disgusting events, usually involving the abuse of