Tag Archives: Palahniuk

Damned, a novel by Chuck Palahniuk

by James Gilmore

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk follows the idea that every cliché you’ve ever heard about Hell is absolutely and completely true.  And Hell isn’t really that bad of a place so long as you don’t expect it to be like Heaven.  All it needs is a little optimism and some long-overdue re-landscaping by the supernumerous tenants.

Book cover for Damned, a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, on Minimalist Reviews.

The book is creative, thoughtful and entertaining, and is probably more broadly-appealing to readers than most of Palahniuk’s other, more shockingly gruesome works.  With trim, lean writing the author creates the most sympathetic, likable protagonist of his career.  To his credit, the 13-year old female protagonist is thoroughly authentic in thought and viewpoint, which allows Palahniuk to lead the character to a number of unusually profound conclusions.  Like the protagonist, every member of the supporting cast is similarly illustrated with sympathetic—if not tragic—human weaknesses.  As the backstories of these characters are revealed the reader becomes continually haunted with the idea that there is no Heaven at all, and that Hell is for everyone.

Despite its strengths, Damned is not Palahniuk’s best.  His trademark technique of using repetition in changing contexts fails to fulfill its purpose in this novel.  The result is frequently negatively iterative, if not, at times, indulgent.

The structure of the final act is particularly weak as well, giving the impression that the novel was cut short of the full story the author was trying to tell.  Virtually without warning, we are ushered to a rapid climax which dissipates with an anti-climax.  The pivotal idea to the story’s final revelation—that the main character is driven by free will—is hindered by the poor structure and ultimately results in invalidating all the story which preceded it by making it feel pointless.

Damned is worth a read, especially for those who love anti-fundamentalist and anti-liberal satire.

Rating:  3 / 5

Pygmy, a novel by Chuck Palahniuk

by James Gilmore

Although all of Chuck Palahniuk’s novels satire American culture, Pygmy is perhaps the most pungent of the author’s bibliography. 

Book cover for Chuck Palahniuk's novel Pygmy on Minimalist Reviews.

Technically sound, fascinating and shocking.  And while many readers may take issue with the nature of certain violent events which occur in the story, these events are in fact appropriate to the story, even if they are presented in a fashion to maximize shock factor.

The audio book recording of the book is an excellent alternative for Palahniuk fans who wish to avoid the grammar headaches of reading the novel’s own form of pidgin English, which can be extremely laborious.

Pygmy is an absolute must-read for fans of Chuck Palahniuk.  However, strangers to his work may find the book distasteful if not virtually impossible to read.  On the other hand, adventurous readers should absolutely give the book a perusal.

Rating:  4 / 5