MJ Nicholls's Reviews > Haunted

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
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Jun 11, 11

bookshelves: novels, merkins, tortured-artists
Read from June 08 to 11, 2011

This enormous hardback, with hideous shocked-doll peepers peeping out the gothic stencilling and black laminate paper, foregrounds the content rather well. It’s a tongue-in-cheek homage to Poe and co, mingled with some of that postmodern irony so beloved by the people in marketing who run our lives through bar charts.

As a stylist, I respect that Palahniuk isn’t lazy, putting his trademark transgressive style away in novels like Pygmy, a hilarious and brilliant little comedy that hit the mark nicely. This book feels like Chuck on autopilot, and though I admired the structure initially, the repetitiveness of the ‘present-poem-short’ sequence became banal, and as Dan pointed out, the stories written by the characters have the same voice and tone as Chuck.

There are some engaging pieces here—several like a bloodier, blunter Ballard— others mordant satirical attacks on fame, artistic ambition and so on. (Easy targets). Others are blatant shock fodder or forced attempts to shock that become embarrassing. The main narrative involves hologram characters chopping off their fingers and toes, and as such doesn’t sustain a 400-page novel as much as the stories do.

In the end, it seems as though a point was being made, but it got lost somewhere in all the dismemberment. Let’s call it an ambitious failure and move on.
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