Josh Cutting's Reviews > Haunted

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
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's review
May 11, 2008

it was ok
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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04/03 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Devin I can totally see where you're at on a lot of what you said. Though I don't know if it will give a different perspective or not, but Chuck Palahniuk has said on different occasions that almost every story in the book is based off of true stories. Personally, I think even if some things in the book might not be that likely to happen, it's a good exercise through the human psyche and how some people truly go to extremes and do bizarre things. I can see some people doing a lot of the things in the book, I mean just look at the news, there are always outlandish stories happening in reality. But that's just me and I respect everyone's take on the book. :)

Jeffrey That makes it even sadder, because the stories are mostly worth reading. The connective parts are the worst. So over the top ridiculous that they don't fit with the interesting ideas in the stories. The fact that the stories are based on true events makes me want to give even less credit to Chuck as a writer.

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