Review: Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

19 11 2008

snuffI’ve long been a fan of Chuck Palahniuk and his books. He’s written a few of my favorites, including Choke, Lullaby, and Fugitives and Monsters (though I love the entire series of those travel books).  I’ve found his work to be engaging and fresh.  It always comes from a different place and challenges me as a reader.  His latest book Snuff, however falls short.

Snuff focuses on five key figures at a gangbang shoot for a porno:  three of the participants, the talent wrangler, and the star going for the world record.  We get the perspectives of the participants and the wrangler, alluding to the star.  Throughout the book we learn that she mothered a porn-baby and later learn that one of the participants waiting to go on-stage may be that child.  

My problem with the book is not the subject matter, but that the plot of the book isn’t enough to keep it going for nearly 200 pages.  While the book is full of disturbing/odd/interesting trivia (that may or may not be true), that seems to be the main device (and nothing new for the author).  The coy and clever porn movie titles are wildly interesting, but in the end the plot and characters just don’t seem to hold up.  

The twist in this book (don’t worry no spoilers ahead), isn’t overly surprising and I guessed it about half way through.  Additionally, there isn’t enough tension between, or substance within the characters to make me care about any of them.  In the end, I’m left with a very vivid book that doesn’t really go anywhere.  Snuff leaves you with a sticky feeling, like you just spent a few hours of your life eating off the craft services table in a basement with a bunch of sweaty, doughy men waiting for sloppy seconds.  

Overall I wonder if he’s getting the same love and attention from his editors and publisher as he used to.  I haven’t yet read Rant, but based on Snuff and Haunted it seems like he’s being pushed to just release a book a year. It’s interesting that Snuff came out in May of 2008 and his next book PYGMY comes out in May of 2009. However, to be fair, the description of PYGMY sounds interesting and like he’s decided to move in a new direction as a writer.

Recommendation: Skip Snuff and try Invisible Monsters or Survivor.





More Interesting Publishing News

16 04 2008

The One-Story Magazine blogreported today that Small Beer Press is giving away a collection of short stories by John Kessel. The author apparently lives here in the Triangle area. I’ve downloaded it and considering what to do with it. It’s quite a number (347) of total pages. Where can you get it? Why are they doing it? What is this madness? Check it out here. I guess you can’t stop progress, though you can always buy it the old fashioned way at Powells Books.





Interesting Destination and Recent Consumption

28 01 2008

Someone brought this website to my attention recently. It produces t-shirts based on obscure pop culture references including John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Big Lebowski, etc. It’s pretty interesting.

On another note, I saw There Will Be Blood this weekend. Wow, that is some movie. Everything about it was fantastic. I’m not sure where to begin so I’ll leave it there for now.

Also just finished reading Philip Roth’s novella Goodbye, Columbus. This was a really good book. I picked it up in the airport as the I couldn’t get into the Rick Moody book I was reading. It’s a coming of age story, but considering it was published in 1959, I feel it still has a lot of relevance today. The class themes may be somewhat different, but the struggle with love, a finite summer, and distance seem pretty universal and true until today. I’m going to start hitting Roth’s works and go through them one by one.





Two Links

6 01 2008

Here are two links of interviews conducted by Zack Smith a writer who apparently lives closer to me than I thought. Small world, eh?

The first is an interview with Jonathan Lethem regarding his work on Omega the Unknown.

The second is an interview with Austin Grossman about his great book Soon I Will Be Invincible. This is a really great book that I’d recommend to comics and non-comics fans alike.