Book Review: Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk

In Chuck Palahniuk’s world, nothing is what it seems. Something sinister lurks behind the scenes of everything ordinary. Homelessness, feng shui, those dolls you practice CPR on, talk shows; they’re not what they seem to be. It’s an interesting place to visit, but you wouldn’t wanna live there. That’s what makes Haunted – a collection of bite-size chunks of story – such a perfect window into Chuck Palahniuk’s world.

Haunted squishes together short stories, poems, and a novel in a semi-coherent fashion. There is an overarching story, but it’s really not the main attraction. It’s the short stories, presented as if they were written by the characters in the main story, that really shine here; and by “shine”, I mean “make you gasp, barf, and possibly faint.” They’re horrific, but for the most part, not in a supernatural way; this is all real-world horror. Palahniuk claims that many of them are true. At the same time, though, they are so over the top that they must be exaggerated beyond recognition. At least, that’s what you gotta tell yourself, because like I said, Chuck Palahniuk’s world is not the one you want to be living in.

He ends the book with an autobiographical story about the power of books, and their freedom and necessity in a world of mass media. It’s both inspirational and frightening. If you are looking for a book that can affect you in ways that television and movies never do – though not always in a good way – then look no further than Haunted.


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