Parkaboy's Review **SPOILERS**
I'll preface this by saying that, for the most part, I was entertained by this book. Now I'll tell you that I also think it's a scatalogically indulgent catharthis perpetrated with adolescent fantasy.
This book makes me not want to read Chuck ever again. Following his literary whoring of himself with Stranger Than Fiction, this "novel" seems to be more of the same. Retread ideas boasting only the transgressive and outre to lend them merit.
Putting on a Grande Guinol whihc ultimately leads nowhere, to me, reeks not of merit but of boredom. It's as if Chuck has become the very "Society of the Spectacle" he rails against. This book is virtually all show and no substance. or, to put it in Palahniuk's terms: There is lies unabashedly indulgent and gimmicky horizontal story and only the thin onion peel of a vertical one.
There are no characters in this book. I mean that, tell me about one of them, describe their personality? Not their physical description or their little backstories but who they are. You can't, because they are all the same character. Each one a modern day flagellant punishing themselves for their sins while simultaneously trying to turn those sins into fame and love. Yes, Chuck, been there, done that.
See also: Fight Club
See also: Survivor
See also: The Palahniuk Oveure
Chuck assualts the reader with one after another of self-degrading fantasies of mutilation, cannibalism, rape, etc. Yet it all goes to no discernible end. And speaking of the end, predictable and a complete cheat. Please, he "faked his own death," yes, how very clever Chuck, I think I saw that on Scooby-Doo.
Thje ending typifies the entire novel: nothing in it seems plausible. Which, on it's own, I don't have a problem with. But if a reader is to suspend his disbelief some rationale must be given, Chuck gives us facile explanations. Everyone hates themselves, telling your story is the only way to leave it behind you.... and so, the characters vomit their "stories" (which aren't stories thank you) upon each other leaving behind their "pain" along with an assortment of appendages and any attempt at individuality. They serve as marionettes in a twisted pppet show that the author concocts to once again show off his research minutae and predilection for shock-style fiction.
These characters aren't, they are each defined only by whatever groo-out story they have or by their employment. Tyler said it best: "You are not you job." But these people are, they don't have any sort of genuine motiovation for the gross ends they go to, simply proclaiming that pain is redemptive is a trite excuse for putting on a show.
But, I suppose, the man still does that well. It is often entertaining to read, like an auto-wreck, or the following Twin Towers, but after you've digested this viceral diet of penis-eating and innards sucking you are left with an empty stomach. Because, like fetuses and cock-tips, their is no genuine sustenance to be had here. It all adds up to nothing. To a ridiculous motive for an even more ridiculous set of characters.
Chuck is making a statement about modernity again, and one that is at least relevant--as opposed to his last two tract which were not. But all of his points are simple minded and his themes, or horses are tired from overuse and malnutrition. Pain redeems you, people will go to any lengths to be loved, your sins come back to "haunt" you. Chuck and many other people have said this all before. This time he puts on a spaltterfest and goes no deeper in probing his themes, he ought to have slapped on some latex and shoved his hand up his horses ass while he was exploring all of his characters innards while he was at it.
This book just pisses me off. It's a shock fest, nearly pure gimmickry. Nothing here is genuine or ture or substantive. it'[s Chuck promoting Chuckness, it's automatic pilot and it'll sell like Viagra. It all begs the question: Has Chuck become the very th8ing he purports to detest?
In all his books he's railing against the insipid, the cult of celebrity, the want to be all image and no self. Yet this book is all those things and less. It's all image, all gimmick, all very clever but unsatisfying. "Then people will love us." the book ends, and you can imagine Chuck himself talking to you, saying: "Love me." Yet where once I feel that might have been heart felt on his part, this book makes me feel as if he's laughing and saying: "I know you'll love me no matter what I do." It's like a child testing the limits of his parents, here Chuck seems to test the limits of his audience.
The "novel" is a series of linked short stories which aren't even short stories, they're cle4ver anecdotes each with the ol' trademark Palahniuk twist. The chracters, such as they are, never evolve, never change and are distinguishable only by the particulars of their stories, which might as well be interchangeable. tell me, what is the difference between adolescent slaying of people with knives as opposed to bowling balls? How is Miss America signifcantly different from Saint Gut-Free? They both want fame and love and validation, the difference lies only in insignificant details. There isn't character here and as if to underscore that, Chcuk writes every story in the same Chuck-voice. what is the point of 23 distinct narrators if each one sounds exactly like the others, if each one's story is a variation on a theme?
At least ten writer's in the workshop could have written this in their sleep. It's an adolescent catharthis, at times entertaining, but mostly just puerile and annoying. Where was Gerry Howard and Edward Hibbert when Chuck showed them this? It's like he's seeing how much he can get away with. But you know what, he isn't. And that, for me, is the saddest part of all. I really believe Chuck thinks his refined his craft here, that he's pushed new boundaries. But the only envelope expanding here isthat he is more base and gross than ever before. that's a Howard Stern improvement, not that of an author.
I read this and I think, Chcuk's punching a time-clock, but then I realize, he isn't, this is his heart and soul. Or so he tells us.
I have to believe his personhood goes deeper than this.
*I have themes and such to discuss in Book Club, but something tells me it'll be more me positing meaning in this mess than anything intended in the text. Also, please excuse the many typos and such as I have not Word installed right now and my back is killing me.
I was here. Then I wasn't. Then I was again.