El's Reviews > Haunted

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
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it was ok
bookshelves: 21st-centurylit, biddles, library-borrow

I adore scary. I love being scared by movies and books. I'm a little less brave by real-life situations - as a kid I loved the idea of haunted houses at Halloween, but each year, without fail, I wouldn't even make it through a haunted house without my dad having to carry me out an emergency exit because it was all just too much. It became sort of a family joke. I wanted to make it through, I wanted to enjoy being scared, but it was too close to me, I didn't have control over it, and therefore, I couldn't have fun with it.

(I have since been able to handle Halloween haunted houses, by the way, in case you were wondering. I've learned how to have fun with it. Sort of.)

The sorts of movies and books I like are the ones that involve ghosts, even demons, exorcisms are fine, some alien-horror stuff, stuff that you can't see, my imagination is the scariest place I know, so movies or books that only touch on the problem without showing me anything, or just shadows, or noises, or swelling music - that's the sort of stuff I like.

Movies and books that are more for the gore (I think they call it 'torture porn', right?) doesn't work for me. It's dumb, it's silly, it's not enjoyable. Look, more blood, more guts, more sexually-based attacks and killings, more in-your-face gore... what is that? That's not enjoyable to me, that's shock value, that's someone who can't tell a story so makes up for it with stuff that shocks the viewer and reader.

It's why this wasn't that good. It's why Palahniuk (and the public) give so much attention to the fact that (at the time of this writing) 73 people passed out at Palahniuk's readings of the story included here, "Guts". It's not a good story, because Palahniuk doesn't appear to be a particularly good writer, but there's a story behind the story, and that's what people are fascinated with. Drama, it's just like Palahniuk stated throughout this book (paraphrasing here), that people love drama, they'll create the drama if it doesn't already exist, life is boring without it. I don't disagree. But I also try not to associate with the people who take it too far. They might not be bad people, but their interests don't always interest me.

This is the sort of book I would have enjoyed in high school when I was reading Bret Easton Ellis and Irvine Welsh and thought cutting-edge literature meant that it was good literature. Mostly because I didn't know better, mostly because I thought I was making a statement, mostly because I was impressionable. And now I'm not. I'm older, I know better, I've read more, I've lived more, and I know what kind of things impress me. These stories didn't impress me.

I haven't read anything else by Palahniuk before, and I wouldn't have read this on my own either, but did so now because it was the next choice at my real-life book club and I will read all teh books because that's how I roll.

I gave it a chance and it let me down.

I'm a pretty strong person, I have a somewhat iron stomach, I work in the medical field and I see pictures of really gross things sometimes. I hear stories of even grosser things, sometimes while I'm eating my lunch. I'm actually interested in it. But there's a reason for those stories, they are learning experiences for the people telling them, for the people listening to them, and for me who genuinely finds so much interesting in the world around me. It seems to me that Palahniuk wants to make a statement about the world around him but chooses to do so in a shock-value manner, as if his stories might not stand well on their own unless there was this stuff propping it up. "Hey, come see me read, read my book, see if you're strong enough not to puke or pass out, I dare you."

I don't need to be dared, thankyouverymuch. Just write a solid book that stands on its own, stop trying to impress your public, stop trying to be cutting-edge and cool because it doesn't work.

I give this two stars because I could actually finish it and I understood what Palahniuk was trying to say. But it's not as smart as he wants to pretend it is. And two stars because I'm fucking happy to be done reading it. Fuck.

And also, two stars because the cover glows in the dark and almost gave my boyfriend a heart attack.
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Reading Progress

June 5, 2013 – Started Reading
June 5, 2013 – Shelved
June 5, 2013 –
0.0% "Alright, self, let's just get this over with. Like ripping off a Band-Aid."
June 9, 2013 –
page 172
June 14, 2013 –
page 318
June 15, 2013 – Shelved as: 21st-centurylit
June 15, 2013 – Shelved as: biddles
June 15, 2013 – Shelved as: library-borrow
June 15, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Rayroy (new)

Rayroy I still haven't started and I'll more than likely wait till a week left. Did you get the gross part that people can't handle?

message 2: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El Um, I think so? They were talking about the pool story, right? I read that this morning on the bus. It was gross, but not throw-up-pass-out gross.

message 3: by Bri (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bri Fidelity El wrote: "Um, I think so? They were talking about the pool story, right? I read that this morning on the bus. It was gross, but not throw-up-pass-out gross."

I think people passed out because at the beginning the narrator says something about seeing how long you could hold your breath? Or that's what I always assumed, anyway. Dumb too-literal live-audience people being macho.

message 4: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El Ooh, that's interesting, Bri. I hadn't considered that. If that's true, then I've just lost what little hope I had reserved for the majority of humanity. Yeesh.

message 5: by Vorbis (new)

Vorbis You made it! I haven't tried and don't intend to, but well done you *grins*

message 6: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El Thank you, Vorbis! I'll be honest - I wouldn't recommend it. I think it appeals to certain readers, but that's about it.

Still... a part of me is sort of interested to see how the book club discussion of this one goes. :)

message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy great review! I only ever read Fight Club, and that's all the Palahniuk I need in my lifetime.

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