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1st 'Tell All' Review From The Cult!

Tell All  by Chuck Palahniuk (May 4, 2010)

Reviewed by Brandon Tietz

"Tell All" by Chuck PalahniukA little over a week ago I got an advanced copy of Tell All, and since then, I've received more than a few inquires as to how it is.

You can think of this as a vintage Hollywood version of "Glamorama" by Bret Easton Ellis.  It's a constant barrage of celebrity name-dropping (and in bold print, no less) with a slew of camera directions and editing room speak.  Instead of Christian Bale we get Mickey Rooney.  Kate Moss is replaced with women like Monroe, Garbo, and Joan Crawford.  So if you enjoyed that aspect of machine gun pop-culture in "Glamorama," then "Tell All" delivers the same thing in a nostalgic, grainy reel.

As if to build upon the old-timey setting, Palahniuk crafts a more traditional literary story.  More subtlety.  Less shock.  Don't get me wrong, he's still using his same go-to methods: the choruses and clever-isms.

Someone who was your husband: a "was-band" (love it!!)

What he's not doing is going for the throat as seen in the "Guts" short story and "Snuff."  I don't feel like the guy is trying to one-up himself anymore in regards to how far he can push the envelope.  "Tell All" could very well be his most mature work yet.  I say mature, not because we're lacking all things grotesque and filthy--but the use of subtlety regarding the theme of perceptions when applied to these characters.    If "Fight Club" is about hitting bottom, "Tell All" would be its inverse, a story of ascent and how important the opinions of those surrounding us matter.

The drawback, as far as I can see, is "Tell All" isn't going to be for everybody.  I'm 27, so I only recognized about 15% of the names.  Personally, this didn't take away from the story, but the younger demographics might feel differently.  The celeb aspect is either going to come off as exclusive or well-researched, depending on the reader.  And even though the novel is well-crafted and beautifully written, it's a tad on the short side at only 179 pages.

After reading it, it's clear to me that Palahniuk is still experimenting, still trying new things regarding style, structure and format--and it was a breath of fresh air with this one.  So don't expect another "Fight Club" or "Choke," and don't expect it to be "Glamorama" exactly, either.  You're going to see some parallels, but "Tell All" takes a more traditional turn with the writing.  It's a different kind of Palahniuk...so different that you may just be shocked. The guy can really lay down the beautiful prose when he wants to.

Still funny.
Still clever.
Just different. 

Altogether, an enjoyable read.  Much thanks to The Cult for throwing one my way and I hope you guys like the new direction he takes with this one.

-Brandon Tietz

Pre-Order "Tell All" Here!