Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chuck Palahniuk Is Cooler than Your Unfinished Novel

snuff Pomo-bad boy Chuck Palahniuk, author of Invisible Monsters, Survivor, and...well, we can't talk about that one, seems to be taking a page from 60s-era The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones by releasing a new novel a year, including next week's Snuff1 (Doubleday). Some might say that he publishes too much; tell that to his agent.2

His newest work concerns Cassie Wright, a pornographic actress whose star is waning, and her plan to cap her career with her magnum opus [Ed. Note: horhorhor!], a film that captures her having sex with 600 men consecutively. That sounds graphic!

According to Publishers Weekly, the narrative is told from the perspective of Mr. 600, Mr. 72, and Mr. 137. Publishers Weekly writes:

But for a novel centered around a gargantuan gangbang, there's surprisingly little action; the small amount of narrative movement takes place backstage, where the characters attempt to get a sense of one another while waiting for their number to be called. There are sharp moments when Palahniuk compassionately and candidly examines the flesh-on-film industry, but mostly this reads like a cross between the Spice Channel and Days of Our Lives.

[Ed. Note: That's a burn.]

First, I'm shocked that a story about pornography is only told from the men's perspectives and that the men seem most interested in themselves in comparison to other male 'bangers. Why, that almost seems homoerotic! In a move that is sure to launch a thousand academic-conference papers and a handful of Master's theses, Palahniuk has collaborated on a fictional film trailer to promote the book.  You can view it below, but beware, it is both bawdy and likely NSFW (Not Safe for Work).

Second, Palahniuk's work is wildly uneven. While Invisible Monsters is a classic (with its innovative use of language and fashion-mag-inspired narrative structure), Fight Club (whoops) remains one of the only books that pales in comparison with its filmic adaptation (the other is Sideways, sorry Rex), and his other works depend too much on the audience continuing to be surprised by the premise as the story develops.

Check back next week to read the Not Invisible review.  You'll be the only one!

1With my usual thumb on the pulse of the industry, I saw a whole table of Palahniuk's books on prominent display in the downtown Barnes & Noble yesterday, but couldn't imagine that he had a new novel already coming out. Probably because I was angry that in the store you can only buy Charles Dickens' novels in the Barnes & Noble editions. The price point is awesome; the absence of all critical apparatus is non-awesome.

2Palahniuk's Fictional Output
  • Fight Club (1996; Major Motion Picture 1999)
  • Survivor (1999)
  • Invisible Monsters (1999) (written between Insomnia (unpublished) and Fight Club)
  • Choke (2001)
  • Lullaby (2002)
  • Diary (2003)
  • Haunted (2005)
  • Rant (2007)
  • Snuff (May 20th, 2008)
  • Pygmy (forthcoming 2009 according to official website, WTF?!?!)

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