05 June 2010

A review (kinda) and a digression (really)

I have actually found a way to shoehorn in a little reading recently (although not much). I did pick up Chuck Palahniuk's 2008 novel Snuff, mostly because I knew that I could read it in a short one hour reading session at a coffeeshop. (Well, an hour 15, probably.)

I was right.

This novel takes place at the taping of a porno flick, and is organized in alternating chapters narrated by five different characters. This is a gimmick Palahniuk has used before--to much better effect in Rant (a book about which I have complicated feelings). The plot of the novel is thin--it doesn't take long to figure out what the relationship between the characters is likely to be. Nor is the expected "Palahniuk twist" all that unpredictable. The final scene of the book should only be described as gratuitous, disgusting and (maybe worst of all) highly improbable.

Wait. I just had to interrupt the writing of this because Criminal Intent is on, and I just got very distracted by wondering if Saffron Burrows spends all of her time trying to remember to suck in her cheeks while she is "acting," or if that is just a freak of facial anatomy. Either way, it stresses me out.

Ultimately, this is a disappointing book. I have read most of Palahniuk's books. I'm not sure why. Usually I am left with the feeling that he just didn't really give it much effort. He's a man with a lot of imagination. And he has a good ear for dialog. But he rarely comes up with much more than a sort of interesting, but underdeveloped, concept. I always read him thinking that maybe the novel in my hand will be the one in which he delivers what his potential promises. (Rant did come close. Just because it was, in its own way, a much more ambitious book than most of his others.) To make matters worse, Palahniuk takes sophomoric delight in creating the names of the fictional male porn stars and the films in which they star. It is humor hardly worthy of morning rock station shock jocks, let alone a darling of contemporary fiction.

So. Um. I'm not really recommending this book. Unless you read as quickly as I do, and you are just sort of curious, and you aren't someone who is overly worried with squandering your leisure time.

EXCEPT. The hardcover of this book sports really great thematic endpapers. If you pass the book in a bookstore, pick it up and look. And see if you don't agree that it would be great to have a roll of that in wrapping paper form.


James said...

I used to have a generic goblin or gremlin action figure that had an expression a lot like Saffron Burrows. Maybe she's part goblin?

It's funny, I looked at your blog today because I had a strange feeling that you had written an entry about the new Karate Kid movie. I think I'm just sort of looking for opinions that reflect mine (that movie's going to suck, Jackie Chan is no Mr. Miyagi, Jaden Smith looks like he was created in a lab, Danielsan couldn't afford a red leather Michael Jackson jacket, etc). I am the choir and I need to be preached to! I know that I should just accept that eventually every movie will be remade, and that there are pockets of film snobs (like me) who will criticize a remake without seeing it for the simple fact that it is a remake, and maybe I should just be happy that that means there'll be $5.00 copies of the original around.

I sort of hate Chuck Palahniuk without really having read anything he's written, besides his Portland travel guide, and the beginnings of a few of his books, the beauty queen one and the airplane crash one, because I always got the impression he was a gimmicky writer. Am I just taking my prejudices against post-Modernism out on him, or is he sort of gimmicky? I can't really tell. I guess I'll ask you when I see you.

Rachael said...

I like it when you brag about your skillz.

KRD said...

The part goblin thing makes a lot of sense to me. See new blog about Kung Fu Kid. And, yes, he is a super gimmicky writer. And sometimes that's ok, but sometimes it is just annoying. Are you saying I'm going to see you soon? Please say that that is what you are saying!

Rachael: Not what I was going for, but ok.

Rachael said...

Just sayin'