Damned Paperback – 1 Sep 2011
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Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison. I'm just now arrived here, in Hell, but it's not my fault except for maybe dying from an overdose of marijuana. Maybe I'm in Hell because I'm fat--a Real Porker. If you can go to Hell for having low self-esteem, that's why I'm here. I wish I could lie and tell you I'm bone-thin with blond hair and big ta-tas. But, trust me, I'm fat for a really good reason."To start with, please let me introduce myself . . ."
A dark, disturbing and very, very funny new novel from the inimitable Chuck Palahniuk - his best yet. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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First off, Palahniuk's trademark irreverent wit and candour are still there, and they juxtapose aptly enough with a premise as morbid as throwing an overweight 13-year-old smartass, overprivileged but lonely Hollywood brat, Madison Spencer, into hell and eternal damnation. She is there due to a supposed marijuana overdose, when the novel begins, a telling sign of the kind of excess and moral decadence associated with Maddy's upbringing by celebrity parents, but this being a Palahniuk novel, nothing is as it really seems at first.
Next, there is a motley cast of characters in the form of four fellow cellmates, strategically placed in close-enough vicinity and who just "so happen" to be teenagers modelled after the cast of John Hughes' 80s cult teen movie, "The Breakfast Club", for Maddy to identify with and form a tenuous clique with quite quickly. (Palahniuk has made specific reference to the movie in interviews as an intended influence on the novel). They break out of their cells to take a tour of Hell, as a kind of induction for Maddy.
The putrid landscape of Hell is also detailed with suitably vile description: a sea of wasted sperm, land mounds of dandruff, used diapers, etc... you get the drift, and there are one or two blood-curdling scenes involving the repetitive ingesting of humans by monstrous demons.
Then inexplicably, a call centre appears midway in the story and Maddy finds herself working there, making telemarketing calls to the living, and her newfound friends fall away from the focus of the story, only to resurface later.
Perhaps I would have moved this up to three stars if the narrative hadn't moved in such a schizophrenic manner. It might be premature to judge it this harshly if indeed this was meant to be a precursor to a larger story.
Yeah, this is a fun book, it's a nice easy read, so if you're the kind of person who isn't into slow-burning methodical novels, this is recommendable. The aspect which has to be stressed the most is the laugh out loud humour. It's an intelligent humour, the reason I found it so funny was because of its relationship with common aspects of everyday life. The Hell aspect is executed brilliantly. Palahniuk has one hell of an imagination. Suffice to say that as you read the novel you will explore the Sea of Insects, the Dandruff Desert, and not to mention, the Field of Toenail Clippings (you may want to check me on the names of these). There's plenty of popcorn balls too!
The characters are developed well. Again, we can relate them to real life. We can ascribe them to the different social groups in our varying culture.
The only thing to nitpick is the ending. A new aspect is introduced. I won't give it away, but interesting as it is, it isn't explored as fully as I feel it should have been. It seems to come from nowhere and then disappears and isn't given a great deal of mention afterwards. Also, I wouldn't recommend the novel if you don't like to suspend disbelief. If you overlook the positive factors you might find yourself describing the novel as: Insane. Also, I feel as though it's a little too short. I would have liked to have seen a confrontation between Madison and Satan. But then again, Palahniuk suggests to us that the story is to continue. I'd certainly be interested in a sequel if that's the case.
Just my two cents. Check it out.
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