Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Luke Baumgarten & lt;BR & Some people write in the first person; some write in the third. Some narrators are limited; others are omniscient. Haunted, like Chuck Palahniuk's other books, is all of these, a roulette wheel of voices, some conflicting -- the voices of victims and assailants, women and men, the conspiratorial and the criminally insane -- but all paranoid, neurotic and obsessive. The cadence of his writing is unique -- or, as he himself would put it, "His writing, it has a unique cadence."


He moves in and out of the second person, trying to convince us that these strange, wrecked lives are still people. Or maybe he's trying to convince us that we're just as crazy as they are.


Writers like this leave an indelible mark on their work. His ideas overflow brazenly and brilliantly. You'll never mistake Palahniuk for anyone else, because no one else can write the things he writes, the way he writes them.


However, in Haunted, it is exactly that dominant narrative voice that undermines its status as a "novel." Called a "novel in stories," Haunted is really more like Boccaccio's Decameron, a set of tales connected by a simple plotline.


In Haunted, 13 people, all hiding from their past, have signed up for the writer's retreat from hell. Each writer's masterpiece is a little monument to human wreckage and failed utopianism.


Problem is, back at the retreat between each tale, the authors display none of the nuance of their stories. Each writer becomes uniformly despicable and self-serving.


"Punch Drunk" begins by observing that there was no war until God gave it to us in Genesis, chapter 11. From there, we gradually learn of a scheme to end all wars by ending all religions. The story is beautifully paced and displays the rabid intellect that made The Fight Club such a frightening and engrossing novel. But the author of the story and the person we see in the workshop are two very different people -- one a bold madman; the other, a timorous fame-seeker.


By forcing an overarching thesis onto 23 narratives, Palahniuk makes all these authors -- all these autobiographies -- sound exactly the same.


So why call it a novel? Why make up the writer's retreat? Why the autobiography angle? Why not just call them short stories? Short stories are good enough. Especially when they're this good.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Age of Zaycon
  • Age of Zaycon

    Spokane Valley's Zaycon Fresh found a way to make millions selling meat — and now it's trying to make a lot more
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Hazy Days of Summer
  • Hazy Days of Summer

    Smoke blankets the region; plus, Patty Murray on the proposed Iran deal
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Brick by Brick
  • Brick by Brick

    Development continues in downtown Spokane; here are some construction projects that could change the city's urban core
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event

Saving Seeds: A Seed Library Event @ Hillyard Library

Tue., Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • 'Flip of a Coin'

    A Spokane Valley deputy trained to spot stoned and drunk drivers is wrong nearly as often as he is right, blood tests from drivers show
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


marijuana


Comment


Publisher's Note


BUSINESS


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation