Haunted is another ‘novel’ by Chuck Palahniuk. I put ‘novel’ in quotations because it really isn’t a novel, it’s a collection of short stories with a bridge story between each short story. Because the form of this book doesn’t really fall into the form of a normal novel, I’m not going to review it like a normal novel, in fact, because of the subject matter of the book, I’m not even going to mention anything specifically from the book, I’m just going to talk about the book in general.
Satire, Drama, Horror
Collection of short stories.
The first thing that I have to say about this book is that if you are offended by any kind of risque subject matter, do not read this book. In fact, if you are even thinking about reading this book, go into a bookstore and read the first short story (titled “Guts”) and then think long and hard about whether you really want to read more stories like that. If you can get past the subject matter of the stories, this book does an excellent job of satirizing a lot about pop culture today.
What this book is doing is making fun of mass media. From the excesses strange things people will try to improve their sex-lives, to the sometimes horrible stories behind the inside jokes our relatives tell, to the people with money who are always trying to be one step ahead of the next new trend, to the strange fascination people have with “reality TV” and how everything involved in those shows has to be more extreme or else it just isn’t marketable.
This book pulls no punches, and there will be sections of this book that you find disturbing or offensive. I truly think that the best thing I took from this book was the realization that no matter how strange some of the thoughts in my head have seemed, I’m normal compared to some people.
Although the book deals with very strange subject matter, it is very well written and even though the stories all have extremely exaggerated behavior, Palahniuk does a very good job of building up the characters to the point that their behavior seems, if not logical, then at least understandable in the progression of events that they’ve gone through in their lives.
Coming up with a score for this book is very difficult. On one hand, it’s a collection of well-written short stories that do a good job of looking at the excesses that exist in our modern culture. On the other hand, it’s probably the single most offensive book that I’ve ever read in my life. So while I’m going to give this book a fairly high score, it’s also going to come with a huge warning.
I said this earlier in the post and I’m going to repeat it now. This book deals with a lot of risque subject matter. Before you buy this book, go into a bookstore and read the first story (Guts). If you made it through that story without wanting to puke, think long and hard about whether or not you want to read another 22 stories dealing with similarly disturbing topics before you buy this book.