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Pygmy Paperback – 3 Jun 2010

3.1 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099526972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099526971
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The boldest book in a long while...ace" (Lauren Laverne Grazia)

"A hilarious novel...as ever, Palahniuk is interested in pushing the limits. He leaps over the line of good taste - and lands squarely on his feet" (Booklist)

"Brilliant... It has moments of poetry" (Daily Telegraph)

"Brilliantly conceived, linguistically inventive and extremely rude" (Anne McElvoy New Statesman, Books of 2009)

"The novel abandons minimalism for a Clockwork Orange-style spin through a semi-invented language. Consequently, it's Palahniuk's most challenging book yet" (Colin Waters The Sunday Herald)

Book Description

The most ambitious novel yet from the author of Fight Club and Choke.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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By Steven R. McEvoy TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 May 2009
Format: 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.
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