Posts Tagged ‘chuck palahniuk’

Snuff – review

October 20, 2009

The official Chuck Palahniuk website is called The Cult. It’s a fitting name, given the rabid popularity of the author responsible for the best selling novels “Fight Club,””Choke,””Invisible Monsters” and others. My girlfriend’s brother-in-law is a massive fan of Palahniuk. He owns every book written by the man. He pre-orders them on Amazon and gets it the day they are shipped. I have a feeling this is how many readers of Chuck Palahniuk are.

At the heart of “Snuff,” is a similar single minded preoccupation. Told largely through the eyes of four people, all of which eventually garner names but three of which are known largely through by the numbers marked onto their arms, it hovers around the backstage of the world’s largest gangbang as Cassie Wright attempts to set a record and, possibly, die in the process. Throughout the course of the novel, the obsessive nature not of porn stars but of porn viewers becomes clear. 137 knows everyone’s names. 72 believes Cassie is his mother and has gotten to know her as well as he can through sex toys made to match her breasts and vagina and the litany of porn movies she has done. 600 is the only “pro” in the group and the only one who seems to have a genuine distance placed between himself and the work, though not between himself and his narcissism. The only other character, beyond cassie, that plays a prominent role in the novel and who we know by name is Cassie’s assistant, Sheila, whose job is to manage the 600 “actors” in the gang bang and whom she routines refers to through a litany of demeaning nicknames that are all variations of “masturbator.”

“Snuff” appears to lack some of the critical nuance and underpinning of Palahniuk’s earlier work. while there is, with certainty, something to be said for the nature of identity in the work and how our perception of identity is something we may inherit from our parents just as well as we inherit our eye color and our height, “Snuff” reads more like a novel on speed.  Within and throughout it is an economy of language that sheds excess weight from the body of the novel, allowing it to move quicker and more adeptly than a novel carrying the bulk of excess pages. It allows he story to propel itself forward at an increasingly breakneck pace until the end of the novel suddenly looms and everything begins to crash into itself and the pieces are left still and dazed at the end as others hover around to pick up the pieces and prepare everyone for another run.

so in that sense it is an entirely enjoyable read. there is no denying its speed and potency as we bounce from the conversations and thoughts of 72 to600 to Sheila to 137 only to bounce back to 600 to find his reaction to what has went on in the two preceeding sections.

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Manhattan Loverboy – Review

August 18, 2009

 Manhattan Loverboy is the third Nersesian novel I have read. I began with what most people probably began with, The Fuck-up. After that I went through a very long Nersesian drought because I have been dirt poor and have relied on used bookstores for nearly my entire book shelves. so I waited and waited and finally came across Chinese Takeout and bought that and read it, too. In a weird way, Nersesian’s tales of disfunction and fuckups and love and sex in NY is one of the things that actually made me want to visit the city and maybe live there.  They struck me as a modern version of Go or On the Road with real people doing real things and not always with the best of consequences but still being in the moment and enjoying the trip.

Manhattan Loverboy (MLB) is more like Breat Easton Ellis through a meat grinder.  It’s quick, it’s funny and it’s obscene in all the best ways.  The lead character is lewd and takes social awkwardness to new levels while not realizing how socially awkward he actually is. The plot twists around on pins and dimes, and reads as much as a pulp noir as a social satire.

But, with all of this said, it also lacks a certain polish that The Fuck-Up and Chinese Takeout possessed.  some of the lack of polish is assuredly intentional as part of it becomes gradually stripped away as the story unfolds and the plot twists around. But it also makes somewhat irritated read at times as the style does grate on your nerves a bit.

someone with a higher threshhold for this pain would probably argue it as the writing most fully expressing how irritated the character is and they would have a point. But there’s also a bit of it that simply feels forced. It is as if you can feel Nersesian’s naturally prose like writing is under the surface somewhere and is attempting to break free and make itself known. I wonder if this novel was difficult for Nersesian to write or if it came easy – something he labored over or something that burst forth in a moment of creation. I could see either being true but I suspect the former.

But if you have enjoyed Nersesian in the past or if you like Palahniuk now, I don’t think you wouldbe disappointed with MLB. And, even if you are, it’s such a short read that it’s not that large of a sacrifice to make.  So take it off the shelf at the library and give it a night. It’ll be enjoyable.

 

Manhattan Loverboy Homepage

Manhattan Loverboy at Amazon