Friday, December 31, 2010

Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk

Title: Haunted
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Pages: 404
Genre: Fiction, Short story, horror
Source: My bookshelf
What you'll love: Really neat structure.
What will bug you: The stories are a little out there...

"Writer's Retreat: Abandon your life for three months"

Would you answer this ad?  The people in Haunted did and Chuck Palahniuk tells us what happens on this retreat.  Believing they will be leaving behind all the distractions that coincide with their "real lives".  What they don't expect is to be living in an old, abandoned theater.  Completely cut-off from the outside world.  No way to escape, even if they decide this retreat is no longer something they want to participate in.  As circumstances deteriorate the people become desperate to make sure that they are the hero of the eventual book/movie that they will write about this ordeal.

This is the first Chuck Palahniuk I've read.  My husband is a fan, so there is no shortage of Palahniuk on our bookshelf.  I picked this up when I was home sick.  Dennis was excited to see me reading it, but confessed that while it's good, it's not his favorite Palahniuk.  I would have to agree.  It was very good - a definite recommend - but it wasn't the kind of book I'd urge you to drop everything and get.  So, in case you're wondering, this review can proudly wear the stamp "Recommendations by My Husband".  How exciting! 

Each person attending the retreat had a nickname instead of using real names.  Miss Sneezy.  Saint Gut-Free.  Baroness Frostbite.  I thought this was a fantastic idea - it kept you wondering why they have these names, and with so many characters all in the same small space, all acting a little crazy, it kept it easy to keep track of everyone.  I can see myself confusing a "Pam" with a "Jane".  I didn't confuse Conrad Snarky with The Missing Link.

I really liked the structure.  It was so different, and it broke up the story into manageable pieces, which was great for me because the month of December was completely nuts.  

Each chapter was divided into thirds.  

The first third advanced the story of the writers retreat and what was going on in the theater.  The end of the first third always mentioned a character that we don't have any backstory on yet.  

The second third is a poem about said character, giving us insight into their life.

The second third is a short story by said character, which explains their nickname - and in many cases, explains what led them to wanting to abandon their lives for three months.

My only complaint is that some of the stories are pretty out there - even for me.  I didn't find them offensive, but I can see where some people may.  I found myself frequently asking out loud "How does he come up with this shit????"  Some of the stories these people told were so twisted - interesting to read - but really messed up.

Overall, a good read.  I'm glad I read it when I did - it was perfect!

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