This book was published in 1998, and the context of what is written must be viewed through that lens. It is an autobiography of the character Marilyn Manson modelled on Dante’s Inferno. Manson’s signature is saying extreme things, pushing limits, transgressing to test people’s acceptance. This fiction stays completely in this lane, with intentional irony and deplorable behaviour orchestrated to shock. It is also weirdly compelling. Manson is the son of a Vietnam veteran who, Manson claims, was good at ‘murdering’ many people (the enemy) during the war. The residual impact of this violence on Manson and his family, combined with the overzealous Christian education and extreme bullying, helped shape this artist. His unique, vivid imagination and inappropriate honesty make the reader wonder if he is neurodiverse. The intensely theatrical and creative life of Manson is marred by devastating drug addiction. He arrives at the choice of becoming all he despises or creating his own identity and living up to his ideals.
In Manson’s own words “what happens when you say something powerful that makes people think. They become afraid of you, and they neutralise your message by giving you a label that is not open to interpretation – as a fascist, a devil worshipper or an advocate of rape and violence…..’