Tag Archives: chuck palahniuk

Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

Adjustment Day Title: Adjustment Day
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 978-0393652598
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Let me very honest and tell you that I wasn’t all that excited when I heard of the new Palahniuk being released. I haven’t enjoyed his last couple of books and yet I was in a strange way looking forward to reading this one.

At the same time, Palahniuk is not every reader’s cup of tea. “Adjustment Day” is his first novel in four years and might I add here that I was more than floored reading it. It is a book that is about the times we live in, the times that are dark and gloomy and no one else to bring it to light, the way Palahniuk does. He wrings the absurdities of society, class and political structure like no one else, almost brandishing each farce and each conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche, bit by bit.

So, what is Adjustment Day all about?

Adjustment Day is about the rabbit hole of our times – the deep, dark abyss that sucks everything right in, with no chance of redemption. Sounds bleak? That’s exactly what the book is with a dash of humour. At the same time, I think one Chuck Palahniuk novel has the potential to derive five more from it. The plot isn’t linear at all (if you have experienced his writing, then you know that by now) and with every turn of the page you are stunned by the satire, that is so on point.

The book is about people passing the word only to the ones whom they trust the most: Adjustment Day is coming. They are also reading a book for the reckoning. These people are also memorizing the directives. What is this book all about? What is Adjustment Day? In short, this is the plot of the book. But like I said, there is nothing easy about Palahniuk’s writing, till you are about twenty pages in and then it is a breeze.

Adjustment Day is also very relevant to the times we live in – the sound-bite politics, the social media hullabaloo, and the “everything is alright” propaganda we are fed with, basically the media and its culture. Every word is in place and nothing is what is not needed. I may not have enjoyed his earlier books, but this one, I most certainly loved. Palahniuk has done it again and hit it right out of the park!

 

 

Book Review: Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Title: Damned
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-0224091152
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 256 pages
Price: £12.99
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I have always loved Chuck Palahniuk’s books. Yes they are dysfunctional and yes sometimes they can only get weird, however most of the time, there are lines in his books that take my breath away and only make me realize that what he says is most often just a reflection of the times we live in – Drastic, On-the-Edge, Ever-Changing and most of all Confused. A world that doesn’t know what it is all about and why is it here in the first place.

Chuck Palahniuk’s characters are weak. They know they are weak and most of the time they only want a better life – much like Richard Yates’s characters. Be it the Messiah in Survivor (or so he thinks of himself to be) or be it the Trans-gendered beauty queen of Invisible Monsters – they are running away to find themselves. For all these reasons and more, Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favourite writers. So I was very pleased to have received a copy of “Damned” for early review. The book will be out only in October 2011.

Damned is said to be a Young Adult book, however it isn’t like that at all. It is a book for adults, which I am sure adults will take to very easily, since the language is not complicated like his recent books.

Damned begins with Madison Spencer, a chunky silver-tongued thirteen-year-old who is the daughter of a way-into-herself film actress and billionaire daddy. After a marijuana over-dose (why I am not surprised?), she wakes up in the wrong side of the afterlife within the confines a scummy jail cell in Hell. She compares this experience to The Breakfast Club, a sort of permanent detention in which you’re stuck with people who are nothing like you in a place you don’t want to be. Madison, of course, plays the basket case a la Ally Sheedy while others fill the role of The Jock, The Nerd, The Cheerleader, and The Burn Out. And true to Breakfast Club form, a particular amount of emphasis is put on the question “Why are you here?”

It’s when these five characters start their tour of Hell and learning the ropes that Damned becomes a real joyride. Palahniuk truly has no rules to play by in this one, so rather than the reader having to suspend their disbelief in regards to the porn industry or special agent foreign exchange students—his version of Hell, and all the sights and sounds he provides us—they’ll hit just as hard as his infamous Guts short story while taking regular cracks at your funny bone with its satire.

The ebb of flow of Damned follows the group tour of Hell while going back to Madison’s time on earth, examining her home life and the circumstances leading up to her untimely demise. We’ve seen this move before: Chuck giving you past and present events in a steady rotation, and the move still works.

Damned has a sense of urgency about it, almost forcing the reader to tear through it in order to get that next titbit of Madison’s back-story or another Hell-related factoid, i.e. – the role of demons and which celebrities reside in the flaming deep. I easily tore through this one within the day.

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

Ok, so while one part of me loved Tell-All because I love the 50’s cinema, the other part of me couldn’t understand exactly what Mr. Palahniuk was trying to tell us. It felt there was so much of it in the book and while I loved most parts, there were parts that were a total turn-off, and yet I think die-hard Palahniuk fans (like me) should read this book at least once.

The premise is fairly simple: It is a look at celebrity culture, gossip rag and the favourite game of them all – name-dropping. The thread is weird and there is a lot left to the readers’ imagination (assuming they have one) and yet so much that is still said.

The novel is from the perspective of Hazie Coogan, who for almost decades has tended to an ageing film star – Katherine Kenton. When a gentleman woos her, Coogan fears that Katherine is about to die soon and already starts writing her memoir. This is where Mr. Palahniuk’s dark style of writing steps in, with crackling wit and dry humour.

Palahniuk’s research into that era is brilliant. The references (Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice, All about Eve and Sunset Boulevard) are clever, and ingeniously built to cater to readers who will lap it up. All in all it is about how Chuck Palahniuk builds a story.

If you love a good old Hollywood cinematic tale with some pills and Botox thrown, bring out your martini and read this book in one sitting…