Posts Tagged ‘chuck palahniuk’

Hell Board

August 23, 2011


This is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever read, and I have read everything Chuck Palahniuk has published so far (I think Damned comes out in a month or two). Smoot described Stone Gods as “it’s like Jeanette Winterson had heard of science fiction novels, thought they sounded cool, and said ‘I bet I could do that.'” HELL BOARD was like Dana Reed had heard of horror novels but never actually read one to understand pacing, plot, what is scary, or anything else about them. Like, the monster is a beefy dude named Max who wears an executioner’s mask, never wears a shirt, and hangs out with the Marquis De Sade and a monster who’s a blob of guts who says things like “The pain has driven me crazy. I’m insane and want your flesh” and “I’m taking your eyes and the skin on your face first. Then I’ll skin the rest of your body. It’s nothing personal. I’m just in pain.”

Another representative excerpt:

“More coffee?” Anita asked beyond the threshold, and Charlie answered, “Yes,” making her long to be with them, to be the recipient of Anita’s coffee and subsequently her freedom.

It’s awesome, it’s just like… really weird.

An amazon reviewer was like “one star, the protagonist is the stupid and the monster is stupid and everyone in this book is stupid.” I agree. Another interesting thing is the way that Reed plays with conventional notions of time in novels: while she clearly relates the events of a day, and then the characters go to bed and then wake up the next day, using words like “yesterday” and “last night” to describe the events of the previous day or night, over the course of the novel I think she probably describes five days. The characters and narrative voice pretend that this monster shit has been going on for weeks though! It’s awesome how inconsistent pretty much everything is. The day Peggy starts learning secrets from the ouija board is the day she first starts seeing the beefy executioner (in the context of the hair metal music video smoke and lasers she sees when she has epileptic seizures), but it takes her like three quarters of the novel to figure out not only that these two things are connected, but that they are the same one thing.

But yeah there is absolutely no narrative tension. The scary things Max does include cutting off HIS OWN ARM and, like, converting Peggy’s dog Dog to satanism. The dog becomes the Marquis de Sade’s dog! That is kind of cool, but like, I don’t really understand what narrative purpose having your protagonist’s dog switch to the dark side- and then get kicked in the face during the ultimate evil ritual in the back yard at the end- is supposed to serve. Who roots against a dog?

Peggy locks Max and the ouija board in the closet a lot, and Max- who is “legion”- says things like “let me out, we must talk.” Literally!

I wish that lady who used to have the website where she’d write synopses of Lifetime original movies in the nineties had read this and reviewed it, because I don’t know how to write with the outraged, horrified, entertained and affectionate tone she used to use. I mean don’t get me wrong this book was boring as hell and is way more worthwhile as a series of talking points than it is an actual book that you read, but it still was pretty awesome. Four weird boring demons out of five.



July 5, 2011

I have an ARC of the new Chuck Palahniuk book and I’m trying so, so hard to care, but I can’t make myself! I used to find him so interesting, like, at least as much as a cultural phenomenon as a writer, but I feel like in his last three novels he’s gotten his style ground down to such a fine, sharp, codified thing, that I can’t muster any feeling at all. Not even ennui or boredom! Like I picked it up and the first couple paragraphs were textbook plastic Palahniuk that made me put it down and want to hide it. I guess I will read it but it’s hard to make myself when there are so many other things that I’d rather know about. Like Ali Smith has a new book! How much more interesting is Ali Smith! Or I could even re-read Rant, which was when Chuck peaked, as far as I’m concerned.

And I am concerned pretty far, actually.


June 30, 2010

Chuck Palahniuk has been phoning it in for three books now, huh?

Because look, this was the last one of his books I hadn’t read. Now I have read all of them. And Chuck? The only reason I didn’t give this one five stars is because it wasn’t Rant, which I have built up in my head to be your grand achievement, or whatever the French word is. But Diary was great! Remember when your writing used to be transgressive not because of vibrator jokes, but because of the grim tone and the overwhelming, almost-but-not-quite cartoonishness of the immorality of all the characters? This was fun! You did interesting things with the plot- I don’t even want to say what because it would give it away! The fact that you think girls are icky was expressed interestingly, instead of boringly! The metaphysical stuff was fun, the repeated staccato phrases didn’t get overwhelming or boring, and there were homos.

Thumbs up, Chuck.

So here’s what I think: Snuff, Pygmy and Tell-All are Chuck’s humor trilogy. Y’know how he likes to write in trilogies? Diary is part of the horror trilogy with Haunted and… something else, I forget what. Well, Chuck, your humor trilogy has failed. Please write a second horror trilogy! Or keep doing sci-fi, like Rant! Because when you are on your are on. Finishing this one is kinda bittersweet.

(this is from my old goodreads account.)


May 30, 2010

Sigh. Oh Chuck. You’re just convinced that you’ve found the magic formula, and you can churn out a book every year or two indefinitely, aren’t you? I mean, this isn’t as bad as Pygmy, or even Snuff, but it’s on the same level as them. Ugh. First, it is barely a book; if we acknowledge that every new chapter has half a blank page to mark it, this is like a 150-page book. Second, why is the repetetive verbal tick in this book (they are in all of your books, Chuck) some random three-animal-noise blurt followed by a celebrity’s name? That’s stupid.

Third: this was your chance, Chuck. As the gay dude who tries to embody straight dude masculinity in his books- and the one who I think still sells well enough that maybe you keep churning ’em out in an effort to keep the publishing industry afloat?- writing about a woman, from another woman’s point of view, in the style of the gossip column- that famous, old-timey domain of ladies and gay men- you could have really made a point. Any fucking point! Something about camp and old-timey Hollywood glamour, or something about queeniness, or… I don’t know, anything! But in every one of your last few books, I totally root for you to do something smart and awesome (because you did in Rant, which still fucking stands up, I read the synopsis on Wikipedia and get totally pumped), and then you don’t really do anything.

Bummer, Chuck! Bummer.

(this review is from my old goodreads account.)