Haunted is on one level a satire of reality television: The Real World meets Alive. It draws from a great literary tradition, The Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, the English storytellers in the Villa Diodati who produced, among other works, Frankenstein, to tell an utterly contemporary tale of people desperate that their story be told at any cost. Appallingly entertaining, Haunted is Chuck Palahniuk at his finest, which means his most extreme and his most provocative.
©2005 Chuck Palahniuk; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"[The stories] consistently, powerfully transcend their macabre premises to showcase the heart beating beneath the horrors." (Publishers Weekly)
"Written with the incisive brutality that accounts for Mr. Palahniuk's intense popularity." (The New York Times)
This is one I first picked up years ago but only got about 40 or so pages in before losing interest and, to be honest, it was a bit of a struggle to get through it again.
The concept was exciting - Chuck writing a portmanteau horror-ish book, a group of writers gathered together to create their masterworks all slowly going mad - but too often I found myself getting annoyed by it. With that said, several of the short stories were excellent (in particular I loved Mother Nature's story about the dark side of alternative therapies and the one about the life-saver doll) but the main problem was with the parts which joined the stories together.
There were too many characters and I was kept distanced from caring about any of them because of their monikers. I'm well used to the Chuck-isms of strange character habits but this is often in opposition to the 'normal' world - in Haunted there is nothing BUT Chuck-isms and it was just too much. It felt at times like Tom Morello's guitar playing, you appreciated the creativity but every now and again just want to shout at him to do a normal guitar solo!
This was the Palahiuk book I felt needed an editor to be whacking him across the head and telling him to cut 1/3 of it out, to cut half of the characters out, and to tone down the Chuck-isms. There was so much potential there for a cracking book but I think it just went too far and lost touch with what Chuck is often good at and that is using strangeness to highlight things which affect all of us.
It's difficult. Either Chuck Palahnuik is the only writer out there who tells it like it is.. like it REALLY is; or he is a new breed of ubershock scribe with the uncanny ability to transform spite and bitterness into an art form.
Town square preacher, or puke-splattered crazy in a bar? I guess it boils down to what you look for in a book. It's certainly not his best. The concept is original, and you will want to read it through. It's exciting and imaginative. It's way out there. Way out there! But it doesn't have the intense thermo-nuclear pulse of, say, FightClub.
Best way to sum it up is this. If Jane Austin occupies your bedside locker... probably best to skip it; if you like your whiskey raw, what the hell... go for it!
Painful, painful, painful - It just didn't work for me. Some gruesome descriptions but there's an underlying theme that I for one just didn't get. I was bored and willed for the end to come -
"Life's too short for bad books....."
I felt I needed a shower after this book. It's a deeply black comedy, very nasty in places. It's a satire on how people manipulate the media , and how the media manipulates people to justtify their respective existences. It just went on too long, and I felt it revelled in its crudeness, stretching the joke too far. Probably would have appealed to me more if I had read it as an adolescent.
Not so much horrific as just too far fetched and a bit difficult to be intrested enough to put in the effort of following the story. Some of the storys within the story are quite good but in my opinion not really worth using a credit on, there are better books out there and some of them are by this author.
"True Horror -- Not for the faint of heart, stomach"
I used to think Stephen King wrote gross horror at times ("Misery"), but this author makes Stephen King look like Nancy Drew (sorry to compare an author with a fictional character, but hopefully you get my drift).
This is the kind of horror novel that's frightening in that it could (theoretically) happen. Although more surreal than real, nothing supernatural occurs; it's simply the horror that people can do to themselves and to one another.
Grotesque doesn't even begin to describe it. If you are the type of person who considered "Reservoir Dogs" part-comedy because of its over the top violence, you may feel similarly about this. If you've ever laughed at the type of cartoon violence like when the Coyote is flattened in his failed attempt to catch the Road Runner, then you might be okay with this book, so long as you can think of it in that context. If you drift away from that mindset, you may never sleep again. Seriously.
My greatest challenge was simply to finish it. It used to be that I was unable to even think about certain types of torture, death, and I wanted to stop listening at least a dozen times, but then I thought, "No, I'm not going to allow a group of common words that someone placed in a certain order get the better of me." And in that way, this book caused me to grow as a person.
Think of the sickest, most taboo thing anyone could ever do, then multiply it by ten and then you'll have this book. I'm not saying this so that your morbid curiousity may cause you to give this book a try, really.
WARNING: Due to the extreme and hideous nature of this novel, before you spend the money or use up a book credit, do yourself a favor and listen to the free excerpt from this book entitled "Exodus." It's 44 minutes long and is completely self-contained. If you can stomach that, then go ahead and listen to the rest of the book.
But don't say I didn't warn you.
"Hard to rate. Some great short stories, but..."
Well I've read/listened to Chuck's other books and I really like his gritty style. I'm not a prude nor do I have problems with his graphic content. All of the other reviews are correct when they warn you about the vileness and depravity of the characters and the over-the-top grossness in some of the stories. This doesn't bother me. That being said, I loved many of the short stories in the book, but there is an overlying story that tries to bundle it all together into a "novel" and not just a book of short stories. That part was tedious and so totally unbelievable as to be insulting. I was frustrated because of these stupid characters and probably won't recommend this book to anyone, even folks who have liked other Chuck Palahniuk novels. I can't say that I liked a single "person" in this book. There wasn't a single character that I felt anything but contempt for. If this were a book of just the short stories, I would have liked it much more and recommended it to others. The "writers retreat" portion made it hard to listen to and I almost didn't finish it on several occasions. I plowed through to the end to see if there was any reason to do so...there wasn't <sigh>.
By the way--if you aren't familiar with this author, this is NOT the book to start on. Try a different one and see if you like his style, then you can try this book if you really want to.
This book is a wonderfully written satirical look at society, civility, and the ease with which these can be shed. It is a grand rendition of "Murder by Death" meeting "Lord of the Flies" with a little bit of "Alive" thrown in for reality's sake. Unfortunately, it is not for everyone; only those who can stomach hearing the unvarnished truth about society and the potential truth about themselves will be able to stomach this. It is raw, powerful, and at times disgusting. Which, when you get down to it, is a lot like life.
"Twisted & Wickedly Funny"
The best review for this book is just reading all the other negative reviews talking about how offensive and tasteless Chuck Palahnuik is... the fact that he doesn't try to appeal to the lowest common denominator is so rare today. These stories are just fantastically wrong! Also, I can only think of a handfull of living authors that can write a novel with such poetically cadenced and inventive language. For anyone judging the taste level, don't forget that Jonathan Swift wrote about cannibalizing todlers for profit.
Although, the main story is over the top in it's believabilty, it puts the reality of the individual stories in a bright light of insight to everyday life to the reader(listener). I find myself looking for the beautiful play on words/suggested phrases that makes one question the "haunted" reality of everyday life. This is not for the prude or narrow-minded reader by any means, and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt to interpret the author's inferences. This book is a refreshment for those who look(listen) from outside the lines of "everyday" reading.
"Savage, Ugly, Harsh, Negative, Yet Good Literature"
Warning: This book is not for most. It is not a horror story in the sense of good versus evil. It is instead about all that is evil, dark, corrupt, selfish, ugly, and self centered about ourselves. The only thing that makes it readable and good literature is that the author uses great language, he lays naked all we don't like about ourselves, and he is brutally honest about much of what we don't want to see. Its a ugly journey but one that some can come away from knowing more about themselves in order to become better people.
"An amazingly vivid and graphic tale"
This book is so not for your average joe. Iron stomach is the base requirement and a terribly gore riddled imagination. That said this is one amazing book. My skin still crawls when I remember some of the stories but they all left a mark on me. Definitely a classic.
"As you can see from the more disgusted reviews..."
...this is Palahniuk at his best. Good to see him back in top form after a weaker novel or two, and finally he's trying something slightly new with the novel-in-stories format, allowing him to stretch his imagination a little more.
Also, this recording includes "Guts," which Palahniuk's been doing at readings for a year or two. It's worth the download just for that story, along with several other notables, such as "Exodus."
"Not for everyone"
Everyone says "Shocked" or "disgusting" like this is a bad thing. When was the last time you were truly truly shocked by something? I don't mean the news, that is numbing. Palahniuk does shock like no one else. And not only that, he is a brilliant writer. If you don't finish it, you're missing out. There are some truly beautiful sequences in this book, it's not just "disgusting".
"A must for Chuck fans . . ."
. . . because we have the stomach for it. After reading the reviews I have to wonder if they have ever read any of his other books. I mean really . . . no one who has read Choke, Fight Club or Lullaby could say that this book is stomach tuning. I only gave Haunted 4 stars because it lacks the flow of his previous works (Stranger than Fiction excluded). It's choppy in parts and briefly slow. It is however, a cunning way to package your short stories in an original setting. I read "Guts" when it was first published and am happy to see it surface in this collection. If you love Chuck, you'll love this book, but if you're a Koonts/Bush fan it will probably be more than your mind cand handle.
R.I.P. H.S.T. 7/18/37 to 2/20/05
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