Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: "SNUFF"



Chuck Palahniuk has been one of my favorite writers for nearly a decade now. His books are an event for me. When they are released, I usually run to the bookstore to purchase a copy, most times in hardcover.

Through no fault of his own, I often feel a tad ripped off when I buy a Palahniuk novel in hardcover. After all, they’re not the thickest books on the shelves, generally clocking in at fewer than 300 pages with a few exceptions. In this crappy economy, I have sometimes had to wait until the trade paperback is released a year later. However, thanks to my hard work at my employer, I recently won hundreds of dollars in gift certificates. I didn’t even know he had a book out until I visited a Borders Books and Music and Coffee and Knick-knacks and Chocolates and Movies and Beyond.

I was excited, I ran home and grabbed my gift card and went back and got it! Ok, maybe it didn’t quite happen that way. Truthfully, it was at least a week before I went and got it because I was in the middle of another book at the time.

Palahniuk’s previous novel, “Rant,” was a masterpiece, firmly establishing him in the pantheon of literary greats. The book before that, “Haunted,” was equally great.

His latest, “Snuff,” is another in a series of sleight of hand tales invooving emotionally damaged characters in unusual situations. In this case, the situation is a gang-bang porno production.
Centering on four people in the midst of what will be the gang-bang event of all time, 600 guys and one woman, Pahlaniuk ping-pongs from character to character, devoting a chapter to each one individually. true to more recent Pahlaniuk offerings, each chapter is narrated by whatever character is being spotlighted so they may tell their story of emotional dysfunction.
Pahalaniuk's world is one built on falsehoods where people pretend to be OK on the surface and are utterly fucked up underneath. Within this world, the struggle for meaning and to determine what it is that makes us human are recurring elements.
For those unfamilair with snuff films, they are quite literally films during which sexual abuse of someone, usually female, is killed on screen. Some insist these films are an urban legend, while others say they are all too real. The fading porn star in "Snuff" plans to die through having sex with so many people, hopefully by a blod clot to the brain, and leave all her money to her illegitemate child whom she abandoned years ago.
The true mystery at the heart of "Snuff" is the idenitity of that kid. Sadly, the tiny cast of characters makes it rather easy to figure out.
"Snuff" is not Pahlaniuk's best work, but that's not really a negative. Anyone whose career is as ground-breaking as his has earned the right to submit a less than spectacular story from time to time. On a purely technical level, Pahlaniuk handles his characters with expert ease and deft craftsmanship. By the middle of the novel, we no longer need the chapter designations telling us who is who. It becomes obvious from the speech pattern being used.
The twist ending is effective and a great shell game trick. We spend so much time focusing on what we think is the mystery that we miss the one that was there all along.
A quick and enjoyable read with an unbelievable amount of research done into the porno industry. Not to mention, Pahlaniuk gives us more new expressions for masturbators than anyone could have ever hoped for!
For example: Pud-pullers, ham-whammers, jerk jockeys, jizz-juicers, bone-beaters & my personal favorite, sock-soakers.
For that reason alone, this is the book of the year!
A-

2 comments:

Rudy said...

Pahlaniuk's "Snuff" is my based on a true story. 300 hotties, and 300 luke warmies jumped my bone(s), and that Polish Inuit sitting behind camera 3 whacking off authored a book about my greatness.

ca nadeau said...

Duh! It was in the acknowledgements section? Hellloooooo