Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, with very sinister undertones
Imagine a country containing an amalgamation of all the worst attributes of North Korea, Communist China and Nazi Germany. Children are tested for their future educational and career needs at the age of four, and those who show high potential are whisked away from their parents into state institutions. There they are brainwashed into complete subservience to the state,...
Published on 22 Jun 2009 by A Common Reader

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing on every level
I'm a huge fan of Palahniuk's first five novels. I started to waver a little with the next three, so I stopped checking out his new work. Having skipped Snuff completely, I decided to grab Pygmy to see what I was missing out on.

All I can say is I'm glad I have my copies of his first five to remind me what I used to like about his work.

I found some...
Published 17 days ago by C. Paknadel


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, with very sinister undertones, 22 Jun 2009
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Pygmy (Hardcover)
Imagine a country containing an amalgamation of all the worst attributes of North Korea, Communist China and Nazi Germany. Children are tested for their future educational and career needs at the age of four, and those who show high potential are whisked away from their parents into state institutions. There they are brainwashed into complete subservience to the state, using a curriculum involving extreme martial arts, political indoctrination, chemical warfare and urban terrorism.

Now move forward to a mid-Western church in America where a female missionary feels such concern for these children that she arranges an exchange visit for a number of them to stay with American host-families. The children arrive in America to have six months of respite from their harsh existence, and as the host-father puts it, to "to sing our songs and share the fellowship of our homes and church". However, unbeknown to these generous-hearted families, these children have been given a plan: their educators have shown them how to wreak "Operation Havoc", a terrible act of destruction on the evil American town in which they have come to stay.

This book is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. The whole book is written in the first person by one of the children, Operative 67, using a sort of pidgin American which takes some getting used to but provides considerable insight into the regime they have been brought up in.

The book is a satire, but on both cultures. The host-family are a sort of Simpsons-like parody of the ideal American family, mixing a mindless involvement in their church community while indulging in all the excesses of American culture. The immigrant children however are classic communist automatons, parroting ideological phrases in everything they say. Agent 67 for example is surprised that in order to gain training in organic chemistry or nuclear particle flux statistics, American youth must:

I soon got used to the language and found myself paging back through the book to notice subtleties I'd missed earlier. You need to work at this book quite a bit, for its actually very clever indeed and is worth reading twice. The story works forward to its inevitable conclusion, with many hilarious episodes along the way. Pygmy has to take part in every part of the family's life and his commentary on their activities offers a unique perspective on dating, shopping and entertainment. Little do these poor saps realise the hate-filled response of this small child among them whose every act is slowly working towards fulfilment of the mission set for him.

I think is a book I will definitely be keeping on my shelves for future re-reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He Has His Edge Back, 2 July 2009
By 
K. Sweeney - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pygmy (Hardcover)
Reviewing a new Palahniuk is normally a pointless task; either you've read him once and been split into one of two camps (read everything else he does, or never touch his stuff again) or you have not read him, and really should start with "Fight Club" to see what all the fuss is about. A pointless task, yes, because this author hit on a formula and simply repeats it with minor variations... "Pygmy" is no exception; sacred cows are slaughtered wholescale by factoid spewing grotesques in a welter of body fluids, prescription drugs, and bland absurdity, wildly swinging between the satirical schools of Rabelais and Swift. To be honest, it had become dull and his last few books (including the self indulgence of two pointless non-fiction titles) felt like they had been produced by a machine that simply replicated his style.
But this book is different. The satire has its cutting edge back, no doubt due to the one thing that will polarize even die hard "Cult" members about this title; the prose.
Burgess wrote "A Clockwork Orange" in his infamous made up argot of nadsat, and Welsh wrote "Trainspotting" in accurately rendered working class Scottish, establishing a lineage in transgressive literature for telling a tale from the most extreme point of view intimately, and "Pygmy" takes up the baton by relating the usual Palaniuk tale of clockwork chaos in the broken English of an uber-foreigner.
Some people will find this an absolute joy (as I did) and others, missing the point, will complain that it was hard to read. But, just as Burgess's novel of brainwashing was constructed to peform its own kind of brainwashing on readers by forcing them to learn its bastardized Russian-English, so Palahniuk uses an outsider to dissect America by use of clever word twisting. One, just one, example; "grope hug."
That's what makes this book worth the effort. By using a different point of view (the typical Palahniuk protoganist being a cooly apathetic American surrounded by a cast of identical cooly apathetic Americans) he has re-sharpened the razor he used so skilfully in the past.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing on every level, 4 Aug 2014
By 
C. Paknadel (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pygmy (Kindle Edition)
I'm a huge fan of Palahniuk's first five novels. I started to waver a little with the next three, so I stopped checking out his new work. Having skipped Snuff completely, I decided to grab Pygmy to see what I was missing out on.

All I can say is I'm glad I have my copies of his first five to remind me what I used to like about his work.

I found some scenes of Pygmy (one in particular, you'll know it) unnecessarily disturbing - and this is from a Palahniuk fan. I'm well used to his shock value, I got through 'Guts' without fainting, violence has always been a part of his work...but from Haunted onwards, it's ceased to have meaning and become simply sensationalism. Pygmy also reads like a flimsy excuse for a conceit, like Chuck wanted to write something in broken English and didn't really care about the plot as long as he could use that trick. It does not pay off. Overall, Pygmy is just a nasty little book. Choke was funny and had a lot of heart. Fight Club was poignant. Survivor was just fantastic. This is...nothing. I've read the three titles I just mentioned multiple times, but I have zero desire to ever touch my copy of Pygmy again.

On the strength of this, I'm going to continue to pretend that Chuck stopped writing after Rant, thanks very much.

I'm only giving it two stars instead of one because it disturbed me enough to stay with me, and I suppose that deserves some credit considering that American Psycho is one of my favourite novels.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Snuff, 30 May 2009
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pygmy (Hardcover)
A few years back I would have told you Palahniuk was one of my favorite authors. His work is cutting edge, unique, and always shocking. Each of his works is unique, from other authors and from his own works. Palahniuk has an incredibly imaginative and creative mind. The closest authors to him are: in Canada Douglas Coupland and in the UK Irvine Welsh. But the problem with always shocking and being so unique is each new work must outdo the previous. As such I think I have lost my taste for Palahniuk's writings.

The book is unique, different and well-written. It is the story of Pygmy, one of a group of youths from a totalitarian state that has been sent to the United States, to live with Christian families and experience a better life. At least that is what the Host Families and church believe. Yet in reality these youths have been raised from a young age as agents of the state, part of a planned terrorist attack on the States.

Palahniuk does a great job of dissecting Midwestern life through foreign eyes. It is a satire both of America's fears and of America itself. However the story is just too much - male rape, high school massacre, planned seductions, pregnancies and impregnations. And the whole book is written as a series of dispatches from Pygmy to his home government, written in a halting, misunderstood English. Palahniuk captures a feel about the language, yet still conveys his message.

Palahniuk's books are usually a pleasure to read and so addictive that I cannot put them down. Some I have read more than once, even back to back - finished it and started reading it again. That was not the case this time. Twice I put it down for a few days, and was uncertain I would pick it up again to finish it. This was the first Palahniuk book I have read that I easily predicted the ending; that, in and of itself, was a disappointment. As a book it is okay, but as a Palahniuk book it is disappointing on many levels. For the hardcore Palahniuk fans out there - they will love it. I think I have just lost my taste for his extremism.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29.)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Palahniuk great, 27 Mar 2011
This review is from: Pygmy (Kindle Edition)
This is my third favorite Palahniuk book (Fight Club being #1, Survivor being #2).

It's a great book, a challenging read due to the sentence structure, but really worth reading. I highly recommend it.

I was very disappointed to find out that the Kindle version doesn't have the proper cover for this edition; just a generic publisher's logo.
It's a small nit-pick, but still...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Persevere and you will enjoy this satire., 3 Aug 2009
By 
This review is from: Pygmy (Hardcover)
Like most people here I have been a fan of Chuck Palahniuk for years, reading everything he has produced religiously and without question. However, I have felt Chuck has started to lose his magic which has driven some of his greater novels, with the production of two of his last three books, Rant and now Pygmy.

Upon reading the synopsis I was very excited to read Chuck's latest installment: the idea of Pygmy, both the person and the story are original and complex. He is a foreign exchange student from a country 'made up of the worst parts Cuba, North Korea, Communist-era China and Nazi-era Germany', intent on terrorising the USA. The story delivered a few laughs, and introduces a lot of interesting thoughts upon cultural diversity, highlighting many problems with our own society which we may not see or might not accept. But for me it seemed far too predictable.

Another issue with the novel is the way that it is written; because Pygmy is recording the events in his Log, as though he was speaking in his Chinese-English, the novel at times is very difficult to follow and in places I could only tell what was going on through the speeches of the Americans, which surreally Pygmy is able to quote accurately in near perfect English, although he himself has very little grasp of the language. As a result of this, whilst reading I wanted to get through the book as quickly as possible, instead of taking my time and enjoying it.

However, during the last 50 pages the best part of the novel comes out, the climax though anticipated, is exciting and I had to my suprise become attached to our protagonist. Unfortunately you have to wade through 200 pages of unsatisfactory background-building to reach the end. Fans of Chuck should definitely pick this one up, but those new to him should begin elsewhere, with Choke, Fight Club, Survivor or Lullaby.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Small Chancer, 20 Jan 2011
By 
This review is from: Pygmy (Paperback)
Reading a review imagine if entirety was in bizarre sentence structure. This is exactly what you need do if you decide to try Chuck Palahniuk `Pygmy', a novel about a young foreign spy breaking into America in the guise of spending 6 months with a foster family. Each sentence is designed as a report back to his motherland and uses stilted sentences and confused structure to make the reader feel like the character is working in broken English. I have to say that it took be around 20 pages or so before I got the hang of the style, and the book felt a lot denser than it should have due to the necessity to concentrate on every word and syllable.

Beneath an alienating structure, Palahniuk is courting the type of controversy he is known for. The main character is from an unknown Socialist country and is living with a darkly stereotypical American family from the Bible belt. Palahniuk pokes equal fun at both parties and as usual looks at the sinister underbelly of America. There are scenes in `Pygmy' that are extreme, even to Palahniuk's standards, and it is not a book I could recommend to anyone with a sensitive deposition. At its best `Pygmy' is a scathing attack on the commercialism of America and some people's habitual racism. At worst the book is mere controversy fodder and does not actually have a real structure or purpose like in Palahniuk's earlier, and brilliant work, `Fight Club' or `Lullaby'.

There is no other author quite like Palahniuk out there and for that reason I continue to read his work. However, there are also few authors out there that have such a varied standard of output, from the sublime to the dull. `Pygmy' sits somewhere in the middle as an average book in the Palahniuk cannon. In the future Palahniuk is likely to be remembered as one of the most interesting authors of the late 20th and early 21st century, however, this book is unlikely to get a mention.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and well worth the effort, 29 Jan 2014
This review is from: Pygmy (Paperback)
This was the first Chuck Palahniuk book I read and to my mind it's still the best so far. Yes it's one joke all the way through but it's renewed on every page with verve and panache. The language is brilliantly executed and the clash of Capitalism and Totalitarianism is fertile ground for humour with a serious streak. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time, 25 Jan 2014
This review is from: Pygmy (Paperback)
This book is just absolutely terrible. If you're going to start with a Chuck Palahniuk book do not start with this, or finish with it for that matter.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Mad and Imaginative, 8 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Pygmy (Kindle Edition)
Not my favourite chuck book. Took me a while to get used to the style it was written in. There were some real funny moments in the boom that made me laugh out loud. I'm never really disappointed with any of his stories. I Just have my favourites.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Pygmy
Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk (Paperback - 3 Jun 2010)
6.39
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews