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on 12 January 2006
Palahniuk is a modern author and ‘Haunted’ is a very modern book. Filled with some of the most violent and graphic imagery I have read, this book is only for those with a strong constitution.
‘Haunted’ contains a set of short stories linked together by a group of would-be writers who have sacrificed 3 months of their life to a mysterious writer’s retreat. As time passes on at the retreat it soon becomes obvious that the people and the situation they find themselves in is anything but normal.
Each story surrounds one of the characters trapped at the retreat and in someway explains why they chose to be there. Many of the stories are excellent – truly thought provoking. Some do fall a bit flatter but the standard is as high as any collection of short stories I have read.
I must warn you that this book is dark, rude and very adult. It should only be read by those with an open mind, who are fans of more extreme novels. If you are this person you will find this book an excellent read.
Sammy Recommendation.
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on 5 January 2014
I first read the story "Guts" at university, when my writing lecturer gave it to us to read for homework. Next class, when he asked us how we all found it, he was grinning like a jackal. He wanted to know how many of us fainted whilst reading it.

According to the afterword, 70+ people fainted as Chuck Palahniuk read that story in public spaces around the world. I believe him.

Most of the stories in this collection are a little revolting, or just sad or upsetting. All of them are very well written and fascinating in a grim way.

"Haunted" is presented as a novel filled with short stories and poems. The poems are largely redundant, and frankly not very good, but only take up a couple of pages each. As I said, the stories are fantastic. The novel element, being the thing that holds it all together, isn't too interesting and is really just a framing device.

I probably would have enjoyed this more if I'd just read the stories, and not the "novel" part. In the back of the book there's an index of stories with page numbers.

As it is, this is a great collection weakened by a "clever" concept, so I can't really give it more than 7/10, based purely on the strength of the individual stories.

7 / 10

David Brookes
Author of "Half Discovered Wings"
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on 2 June 2005
Haunted is a collection of 24 fictional short stories devised by the crazed and perverted mind of Chuck Palahniuk (Paula-Nick). Each story is special in many ways and ranging from touching to downright disgusting. Anyone easily offended or suffer from a weak stomach should definetly avoid this book. For example, the story simply titled "Guts" opens the book and has been making people faint and vomit around the world simply by reading it or having it read to them.
The darkest story however is "Exodus" and I won't even try and explain what it is about or I may not be able to have this review shown.
In some of Palahniuks previous books towards the end he seems to be out of steam and slowly glides towards the story's climax. Now in Haunted Chuck has 24 short stories so he can end it when he likes in order for the story to have its full effect.
Overall a very entertaining book and with the ability to make us stop and examine our own lives (read the story Slumming).
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on 15 June 2016
My first foray into Chuck Palahniuk's head. I figured it was best to start with a short story collection as you usually get a good variation of the author's themes. I certainly got what I asked for... This book is very visceral and extremely descriptive, enough to make me need to put it down halfway through a particularly horrific scene (swimming pool...) when I genuinely felt nauseous. It only got worse from there but I was hooked.
You need to read this. It's made me a fan of his and I can't wait to read the rest of his books.
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on 13 June 2016
I bought "Haunted" because I'd heard it was a contemporary example of a gothic horror and, while I'm not sure I would bracket it as such, I did love it. It's postmodern in its structure, built of a collection of short stories and poems mortared together with a framing narrative. And while this could be construed as a gimmick it is nevertheless a gripping book, as characters' back stories are gradually and strategically unveiled. It's also very funny, completely satirising fame-culture and celebrity with its framing story and also sending up the horror genre ("Civil Twilight", "The Nightmare Box"), religion ("Hot Potting", "Ritual") and, obviously, sex ("Guts", "Dog Years", "Foot Work", "Exodus...).

It's worthy of its reputation for violence but I didn't find it distasteful. Other postmodern horrors I've read have fetishised their violence, piling on lurid descriptions of horror and gore, but Palahniuk is better than that. If it's disgusting it's because he's choosing the best words to create an impact, leaving just the right gaps for your imagination to jump in and do the rest of the work. The infamous "Guts" is likely most transgressive and since it leads the pack you'll know quickly if the book is for you.

Some horrors that try to subvert the classical tradition are a noticeably different reading experience - think Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" or Mark Z. Danielewski's "House of Leaves", where you're always conscious that you're reading a book, however admirable or affecting it is. But "Haunted" is involving: you do lose yourself in it. It's a remarkable and unique read, for those with the guts for it.
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on 29 June 2011
Pros - Well written short stories; interesting characters and unusual ideas mixed with sharp writing.
- Horrifying subject matter fulfills the book's promise to disgust and scare.
- Experimental novel structure feels ground breaking and reflects the theme well

Cons - Overarching story line is less interesting than the short stories
- All stories are written in the same narrative voice despite being told by different people
- V.Badly researched in areas; the story 'Dog Years' which deals with a boy with Progeria in particular. Child sufferers of progeria are not indistinguishable from 90 year olds as implied; they actually appear like elderly children with enlarged eye sockets and foreheads. Sufferers of progeria also have acute arthritis/ muscle degeneration and never enter puberty or develop sex hormones and so would be unable to perform sexually in the manner described by Palahniuk also.
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VINE VOICEon 5 July 2007
Haunted is a collection of short stories by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. It gained notoriety when people began fainting at public readings of the short story 'Guts'. Along with that particular gruesome tale, this book contains some of the funniest, sickest and original short stories from one of the most imaginative authors on the planet.

There is a loose story around the stories that each one is told by individuals who have answered an advert to spend three months at a writers retreat, completely isolated from the outside world, the idea being that each person will produce the masterpiece that is surely in them if there are no distractions from family and work. When they arrive they find themselves trapped in an abandoned theatre by the mysterious Mr Whittier. They become more and more obsessed by the idea that they will treated as celebrities when they emerge from this terrible ordeal, even going to the extent of mutilating and starving themselves to make the story more interesting for the public.

The short stories are very good, some of them are disgusting, some creepy, others just plain wierd but all are highly original. Unfortunately the chapters in between them and the poems are quite boring. It would have been better presented as a collection of unrelated short stories in my opinion. I agree that the whole thing probably couldn't be made into a film but the story 'Obsolete' could be on it's own as could 'The Nightmare Box'. Palahniuk has so many great ideas I would like to see more of his work made into films as good as 'Fight Club'

Like this? Try: The High Life by Matthew Stokoe
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2006
Being a fan of the macabre, and anything plain dark and disturbing, this pretty much appealed to me. 22 short stories from the gut-wrenching to the just plain obscure. This does pretty much what it boasts - though to be honest, I just didn't find it worthy of the high praise many seem to be giving it. Weaved through these 22 short stories is the story of 22-would-be-writers that sacrifice 3 months of their lives to attend a writer's retreat - but things are not as they seem, and as food becomes scarce, the toilets block and the heating fails, events take on a macabre turn for the worst and accounts of self-mutilation are not the worst you can expect.

So, the overall tale of the would-be-writers on the writer's retreat is nothing more than just "how can it possibly get any worse?" --- "Oooooh, THAT's how!" The story continues to shock, disgust and disturb, leaving at times, some interesting thoughts and outlooks on life to churn over.

The short stories range in quality. Some are just plain gross. Some are utterly pointless. Many forgetable. A few were shocking and disturbing. A couple I thought were okay. Again leaving me with a few thoughts and ideas to churn over afterwards. I wouldn't care to bother to read them again. For a lot of the book, I was bored. Especially at the start. The first story "Guts", is a real shocker but things lagged and bored me after that until about the 10th story.

Amongst all of these are 22 short poems, which I utterly found to be pointless and meaningless. Only one of them I liked, and that was only because a particular line in it made me chuckle.

Overall, this book was all fairly forgetable. Sadly, so many stories I read and then 10 minutes later, couldn't really recall what it was I'd just read.

This is the first book by Chuck Palahniuk that I've read. It was written to be extreme and disturbing, and it certainly achieved that. I found that the stories didn't "stay" with me long after I'd read them becamse some felt pointless, and in all of them, the characters were just flat and I couldn't connect or sympathize with them in any way.
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VINE VOICEon 12 October 2006
This was my first Palahniuk book and on the whole (fnarr fnarr) I was impressed.

An excellent set of short stories about life, desperation, mortality and swimming pools each of which has a twist (as short stories do).

Held together as a part of a larger tale wherein a group of success obesessed, would be writers are taken to, and locked in a deserted house, so that they can write their stories away from distraction but quickly turns into a horror story (Big Brother meets 'Saw').

In many ways a morality tale about a lack of communication in society, the one thing that lets the book down is the story.

Now that sounds stupid but bear with me.

The individual tales are great, well worth reading on their own. But the plot that binds them together is the weak point. I think Palahniuk basically had a series of short stories, stuck them together under one coverall tale and sent it off to his publisher.

That leaves you with an above average book with excellent sections which is annoying more than anything.

Well written, dark, gritty and funny, it hasn't deterred me from his other books.
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on 29 July 2005
Having read all of the authors other books (and loved them), I was so excited to read his latest offering. I opened it up, eagerly devouring every word...and then...i had to put it down...I'm not squeamish in any way, love the darker side of Chucks work, but this...was awesome! 'Guts' is one of the short stories that are tied together by the overall narrative of this book, and the first one the reader will encounter. The first section had me laughing away, an amusing tale of 'self abuse' gone wrong. The second section..I'm a girl, it still wasn't so bad..but i read on, and the shock of realisation dawned over me..''. I was not surprised to hear that people fainted at every single reading the author did, at the precise moment he said the words 'corn and peanuts'. I put the book down after that, went and got some fresh air, but 5 minutes later had to pick it back up, and did not put it down again until I had finished it! Loved it. A great dark read, but be warned..not everyone will be able to get past that first story. And knowing what happens next...that may not be a bad thing.
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