When Birthday Presents Backfire

As promised yesterday, today I thought I’d share a bit about the most offensive book I’ve ever read. It’s not offensive in an oh-my-goodness-you-just-brought-divorce-up-at-a-wedding offensive, it’s more like oh-my-goodness-if-I-read-any-more-of-this-book-my-eyes-will-fall-plumb-out-of-their-sockets offensive.

I’m pretty sure shock value was what the author was going for but, when a book is so putrescent that you literally cannot force yourself to keep reading it, there’s something very wrong. I’m no literary light-weight, either. I’ve read books where people have fed their own faces to dogs, cooked babies on hot-plates (yes, you read that right), and inadvertantly had relations with their own mothers. I don’t sit around in my sun room, swooning periodically and giggling whenever I read a slightly suggestive word in a book. I’ve been around the book block a few times is all I’m saying.

This book, though, was so distasteful that I simply couldn’t finish it. I felt soiled after reading it, like I could shower as much as I wanted to and yet never be fully clean. This book, well, I honestly don’t know how you could enjoy reading it.

Tired of the suspense yet? The book was Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk. I mentioned it a few posts ago as a potential birthday purchase and when I went shopping last weekend it was sitting on a shelf at a discount so I thought, ‘Why not?’

Why not indeed. It’s about an aging adult film actress who is celebrating her career’s finale by trying to set a record. The story is told from the perspective of some of the guys who are there to help her set this record (there are 600 of them, all told.) That’s as much as I’m going to say because this is still a family (and work) safe blog for the most part and I’d like to keep it that way.

You might be asking yourself why I bought such a book. I mean, the jacket’s not shy about the story-line so I almost knew what I was getting into, so why would a nice girl like me want to read such filth?

To be honest, I had no idea what I was in for. I’ve read Palahniuk’s stuff before and, while none of them have put a happy smile on my face, none of them have made me feel like my brain was being pickled either. He usually has a gift for infiltrating the ranks of the people who thrive in the fringes of society and it’s always interesting to see how he pulls characters apart and then puts them back together.

That gift was not present in this story and it was, for the most part, an opportunity for Palahniuk to vomit everything he’s ever learned about the adult entertainment industry onto three hundred pages of filth.

I’m going to try to return the book if I can and perhaps buy a nice palate-cleansing book of nursery rhymes. In all honesty, though, moreso than being disappointed about the money I spent, I’m really disappointed with his writing on this one. Ideally, a writer grows, expands, and evolves his/her style (Stephen King is one of my favorite examples) and their work gets better with time.

Palahniuk seems to be stuck where he’s been for the last five years or so and that style has gotten stale to me. He needs to stop looking for life in puddles and start jumping in more of them.

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