Posts Tagged ‘the marquis de sade’

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.