What To Do With Chuck Palahniuk

images.jpgEveryone knows Fight Club. Probably more know the very successful movie than the fact that it was originally a story and then a novel by a then unsuccessful young writer, Chuck Palahniuk. Since Fight Club, Palahniuk has published a long list of works, most which can be best described as transgressional fiction. Here at ACOR we like transgressional fiction and have therefore read a great number of Palahniuk’s novels.

But how good is this author? How important is his work?

Chuck Palahniuk has been viciously criticized for writing the crudest juvenile gross-out novels, each new one attempting to outdo the sleaze and degradation of the earlier works. But if your forte is sleaze and degradation, isn’t it a positive sign that you are investigating more imaginative scenarios to shock and disgust your readers?

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Nutshell

images.jpgI heard that you should have a general knowledge of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to fully enjoy and benefit from reading Ian McEwan’s novel, Nutshell. Let’s see: a brother and his brother’s wife conspire to kill the married brother and assume the marriage rites for themselves. But the wife is pregnant and her very well spoken unborn child (the narrator) is against the murder plot and has a lot of thoughts on the nature of existence even before the mother’s water breaks.

Sounds a lot like Hamlet? And how many other narratives involving a wife and her lover plotting the murder of the old, boring husband?

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Slade House

maxresdefaultI recall several stories for children where a short trip down a hidden alley led to a Alice door and a wonderland beyond. There was even a similar episode of The Avengers back in the ’60s. David Mitchell’s Slade House starts out with such magic possibilities. Several episodes where various people search for the entry to this enchanted house and garden lead to horrible results; but by now you’re hooked by Mitchell’s easy narrative style and read on.

Luckily Slade House is relatively short and an easy evening read but in the end the reader might feel ripped-off.

The occult explanations in this book are acceptable but somewhat cheesy and derivative. I read through to the end and decided Mitchell was trying to cash in on the inordinate popularity of Dan Brown, although Mitchell is a much better writer than Brown.

Slade House would make a good made-for-TV movie … or maybe an episode of Scooby-Do.

Throwing the Long Bomb In the End Zone

images-1.jpgGary bounced from college to college, from the Ivy League to relative obscurity in West Texas. He could always find a new school because he played football and he was good at his game. But Gary also loved to study mass destruction, warfare, and the slaughter of innocents.

Don DeLillo’s early novel, End Zone, somewhat heavy-handedly makes the metaphorical connection between the controlled violence of football and the blood and bone violence of modern warfare, especially as being established in Indo-China (although mentioned only once). Is it a read-out of the playbook or the details of a thermo-nuclear attack plan? Is it the play-by-play of the football game or is it a scenario of the escalating destruction of a winless war of destruction?

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