Synopses & Reviews
by Chuck Palahniuk is a novel made up of stories: Twenty-three of them, to be precise. Twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales youll ever encountersometimes all at once. They are told by people who have answered an ad headlined “Writers Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months,” and who are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of “real life” that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But “here” turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theater where they are utterly isolated from the outside worldand where heat and power and, most important, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more extreme the stories they telland the more devious their machinations become to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/nonfiction blockbuster that will surely be made from their plight.
Haunted is on one level a satire of reality televisionThe Real World meets Alive. It draws from a great literary traditionThe Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, the English storytellers in the Villa Diodati who produced, among other works, Frankensteinto tell an utterly contemporary tale of people desperate that their story be told at any cost. Appallingly entertaining, Haunted is Chuck Palahniuk at his finestwhich means his most extreme and his most provocative.
"One of Palahniuk's more sweeping and macabre offerings, this is a collection of 23 short stories and poems generated at a fictional writer's retreat turned grotesque survival camp. The pieces range from the stomach-turning to the satirical or the absurd. The seven readers tackling the decidedly offbeat Palahniuk are, for the most part, refreshingly successful. Cashman is a standout, narrating the action at the retreat. His voice shuttles nimbly between the male and female writers, while maintaining the integrity of his own unnamed character. Morey's narration is disappointing on 'Guts,' the novel's most notorious and gruesome tale, which has reportedly caused some listeners to faint. Morey sounds too mature and polished for this series of wicked adolescent masturbatory nightmares. In general, the multivoiced narration is practiced and professional, with the trio of actresses turning in particularly strong performances. The other side of all that spit and polish is that Palahniuk's humor is occasionally stifled. Some listeners may wonder whether the author's prose is so singular that only he might be capable of delivering it. But overall, an engaging, albeit lengthy, listen. Simultaneous release with Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 21). (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Chuck Palahniuks six previous novels are Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke, Lullaby, and Diary. He is also the author of a profile of Portland, Fugitives and Refugees, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in Washington State.