Thursday, July 24, 2008

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Eighteen people respond to an offer to live in complete seclusion for three months in order to complete the novel they have always wanted to write. The writer's retreat turns out to be a sinister experiment that unlocks the participants' baser natures and reveals them in all their horrifying inhumanity.

Their host shuts off the power and heat, and leaves them with an empty pantry. Then he waits to see what will happen. No one actually writes anything, but each participant does share their personal stories--each one more disgusting and disturbing than the last. For example, one story involves a teenaged boy who decides to masturbate at the bottom of the pool. Soon, he is stuck to the filter and his intestines are being sucked into it. Another story is set in a police station where the officers have sex with the anatomically correct dolls which the social worker uses to help children talk about being abused. The phrase indescribably gross comes to mind, but Palahniuk does describe the scene, in vivid detail.

Instead of actually writing, each "writer" envisions the made-for-TV movie that will result when the story behind the writer's retreat is sold. Each person plays little tricks on the others to make their situation more horrifying (so it will play better on TV). The revelation of the real reason for the writer's reatreat made me gasp and then made me think. So, even though this book was over-the-top gross, both in sexual and gore-factor descriptions, I can't stop thinking about it. I recommend anything that inspires thought, but beware if you are squeamish or easily offended.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

It's like seeing a scene in a movie that you wish you could unsee. I try to avoid those these days.

I have this theory about well traveled neuro pathways and training your thinking... ok long story.