Sunday, July 10, 2005

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Gotta say, I didn’t care for this one.

Chuck P impressed me deeply with Fight Club, then again with Lullaby and Choke. But Haunted is just plain gross. Worse still, the writing is a poor mimicry of the style of his previous works. It’s almost self-parody, but isn’t that clever.

This book feels like a novel designed by a misinterpreted focus group of Palahniuk readers. It slogs through his usual nihilistic ethos and crawls along shining a flashlight into the depraved corners of modern North American life. But there’s no point to it (the empowering characteristics of masochism have already been suitably covered in his previous works), his use of technical details and medical jargon to sharpen the edge of his descriptions of the horrific, and his repeated reuse of clever phraseology have all been deeply mined in other places. Worse still, the novel really falls apart by the end, as do most of his. But while Lullaby, Survivor, and Invisible Monsters all suck by the end, Haunted just becomes incoherent. In fact, I have no idea how the novel resolves itself, and I just finished it on the beach yesterday.

In addition, the wallowing in the profane and downright repulsive is taken to whole new levels here. Every sexual deviance and cultural taboo is taken three steps too far in this book. From boys who have to gnaw through their own intestines, to dolls gang-banged by police squadrons, to human veal, to… even worse stuff, this book has it all. And by it I mean all the stuff you don’t want.

If you want to read Chuck P, read Choke, Lullaby, or Fight Club. Put this book just below Invisible Monsters and Diary in your list. It just isn’t very good, and it doesn’t take you anywhere you want to be. No more time or words will be wasted on this one.

Chuck, you’ve let me down. If you’ve got nothing else to explore, then quit writing and enjoy your money. If you want to try again, make sure it’s good.

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