Josh Cutting's Reviews > Haunted

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
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May 11, 08

Read in May, 2008

This book is incredibly uneven, that's its downfall. There are some really good moments, some really bad moments, and one or two truly brillant ones. Looking at it as what it essentially is; a collection of short stories, it's really no better or worse than any other short story collection, and actually should get extra points for its brazen audacity. The unifying material that links all of the stories together is terribly weak, and is what ultimately sinks the book.

The first story "Guts" is the best. Not because it's so incredibly gross (and it truly is) but because it is unblinking in its logic. It creates an outrageous yet believable scenerio and follows inexorably to its horrifying conclusion. It's the one story that really stuck with me on a visceral (ha ha) level.

The rest of the book reads like it's trying to keep up with the pace of the first story, but it can't. No story that follows is a strongly written or as moving as the first one, but more just shock value for shock's sake. For every story that almost hits the right stride (Exodus) there are those that just plain don't make sense (Punch Drunk, Something's Got to Give)

This is the second Palanhuik book that I've read, and I think there really is something there. I appreciate his outrage at society, but I think he needs to dial back his delivery just a hair in order to create truly effective satire. He goes from 0-60 so quickly that the social commentary gets lost in the absurdity of the scenerio. If you can't believe it's possible, it doesn't hit home. Writers like Vonnegut push right to the boundary, then siddle a toe past. Palanhuik sprints to the boundary, then vaults as far as he can go. Vonnegut is a razor, Palanhuik is a blunt instrument.

I'm not done with him yet, he's at least shown me enough to give him another try.
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