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The Guts and the Gory

Haunted: a novel of stories

Palahniuk, Chuck

Vantage, 2006

ISBN 9780099458371

Oh, Chuck.  Where did we go wrong, honey?  Once, your words were like a soothing balm of awesome to my eyes.  Now, I feel slightly meh’d.  Believe me, it’s not you.  But then again, it’s not me either.  It’s Haunted.

This had all the makings of a fantastic read – the parental advisory on the front cover, reports of fainting (fainting!) when one of the stories was read by Chuck at a Borders somewhere on a book tour.  I’m still slightly amazed by that, there must have been some seriously weak-stomached people (or maybe just people with seriously great imaginations) in the audience.  For some reason, I could never find Haunted in a bookstore here at Earth’s End, so I purchased a copy over the interwebs, no big thing.  It’s not on the database of items which freaked the Censor’s Office out (though hilariously, there is a video called ‘My Ass is Haunted’ in there – somehow, I don’t think they’re talking about a donkey there), so who knows where it got to.  Anyway,  it’s weird, I got to nearly half way, bottled out of reading the rest a few weeks ago, but for some reason picked it up again over the weekend.  It’s good writing, the premise is solid… but… but… something is missing.

Like a lot of people, I came to Chuck Palahniuk’s writing after Fight Club (the movie) came out.  The movie was great – I adore Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham-Carter, and that other guy isn’t so bad either – but the book is… genius.  And, okay, I know this happens all the time, but the book is actually loads more deep than you’d ever credit from the movie alone.  For a fairly slim volume (it’s almost a novella), it packs a big punch; aside from the twist in the tail, there is a lot to think about in Fight Club – serious stuff, things like the massive gap between the working poor and the classes above them, things relating to the way men and women see the world differently, and about how the ‘button down world’ of late capitalism cannot scratch every itch.  I guess you could equate Fight Club in some ways to Trainspotting – same kind of feeling around the edges, the characters all in search of something intangable which the society in which they live is no longer capable of providing, and everyone in that society is at a loss to explain exactly where it went.  Phew, that was a long sentence.

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