Pin It

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

  • Buried in the Headlines
  • Buried in the Headlines

    Big stories largely ignored by the mainstream media
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • A Sense 
of Détente
  • A Sense of Détente

    In only two months, the seemingly intractable battle between mayor and council has turned into an exuberant truce
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • Not Green Enough
  • Not Green Enough

    State says no carbon exemption for Spokane Waste-to-Energy Plant; plus, settlement reached in Priest River high school football concussion lawsuit
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Ghost Stories: An Interactive Theatre Experience

Ghost Stories: An Interactive Theatre Experience @ Spokane Community College

Oct. 29-30, 7:30-9:30 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

  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • The Do-Over

    After failing to pass a bus service tax hike last year, Spokane Transit Authority has a plan to get you to vote for it again
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • Waiting For Their Place
  • Waiting For Their Place

    Rapid Re-Housing programs still mean months of homelessness for many local families
    • Jun 10, 2015
  • The <i>Real</i> Rachel Dolezal
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation