Tuesday, September 4, 2007


By Chuck Palahniuk

Seventeen aspiring authors are brought together by the words, “Writer's Retreat: Abandon your life for three months." They’re rounded up and placed in an old theater where they are to perfect their writing. Though there is enough food and amenities to make their three month stay comfortable, in hopes of making a more dramatic and newsworthy entrance back into the world, they each, without the knowledge of one another, sabotage everything. Each person takes out what they feel they can live without, whether it’s their least favorite food or the washing machine. Eventually they have no food, no heat, no light, nothing to sustain life. As the characters waste away, they each tell an autobiographical tale. They eventually resort to cannibalism and as people start dying, each survivor gleefully reflects on how they will have one less person to share the fame and the money from the movie rights after they’re rescued.
If you get queasy easily or offend easily or are timid hearted in any manner, you should never read anything written by Palahniuk. The first tale, “Guts”, has caused people to faint at numerous readings. That being said, each chapter is divided into a poem, one of the characters stories and little more of the narrative in the theater. It seems more like a clever way to sting together a bunch of short stories than an actual novel. The poetry is quite bad, but the stories are funny and outrageously disgusting. It’s a little like Canterbury Tales on acid. There isn’t a single character that is not completely morally reprehensible. Most tales reveal that they jumped into the retreat to avoid the repercussions for their sins. I kept reading this book, as with most of what Palahniuk writes, out of grim fascination. Go to for the official Palahniuk site.