Thursday, June 6, 2013
Book Review: "Doomed" by Chuck Palahniuk
You've probably heard the name Chuck Palahniuk before, either because you've seen the movie "Fight Club" (Palahniuk penned the original novel) or because you've read one of his twelve - yup, you read that right - other amazing and highly acclaimed novels. Doomed will be his next masterpiece, the second installment of his take on Dante Alghieri's Divine Comedy.
Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer, the only child of two pop-culture idols, died and made her way through the (really gross) depths of Hell in Damned, the prequel to Doomed. Now, through a freak spiritual accident on Halloween, Madison finds herself trapped in spirit form back on Earth. Through her own meddling, Madison finds to her horror that she's inspired her parents to found a new religion centered on their dead daughter, effectively damning everyone on earth to eternity in Hell. We follow Madison, through her blog posts from beyond the grave, as she explains the events that led up to her death, the subsequent founding of Boorism, and her attempts to herd the Human Race away from damnation.
The sardonic voice of Madison is a perfect vehicle for telling this story of childhood gone horribly (and hilariously) awry. From her parents' private mansions in Milan or Monte Carlo or Mogadishu to her time with her grandparents in "tedious upstate," Palahniuk bounces the reader around while somehow still miraculously managing to keep the story line together and see that it progresses at a reasonable rate. There also appears to be a "voice within a voice" present, as Palahniuk adopts the voice of a character adopting her own voice for her blog. It really is quite the impressive feat, and really shines when Madison dictates conversations that she had. They differ noticeably from her writing voice, in a subtle but distinct manner.
Another writing feature that Palahniuk consistently uses is one that I've taken the liberty of appropriating in the previous paragraph: Referring to a given home by simply giving three possible cities that begin with the same letter really brought home the nature of Madison's parents' rockstar lifestyle. This device (like "Paris or St. Petersburg or Palikir") really emphasizes the fact that they moved around so much to their various properties, place came to really not matter at all. In the midst of all this glamorous jetting around the world, Madison really had no home other than the presence of her parents, which is I think important to notice, especially when it comes to the time that she spent in "tedious upstate."
On something of a tangent, I also want to comment on how good Chuck Palahniuk is to his loyal fans. It was my privilege to work briefly with him when he did an event at the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham, and despite the long line for autographs and a time crunch to clean up after the event, he stayed until everyone had had their books signed. Additionally, he took photos and even stepped outside to say hello to a fan who couldn't get into the 21+ venue. He even signed my copy of Haunted for me:
If you're a fan of beautifully irreverent humor in the form of supernatural adventure, snarky protagonists or horribly unfortunate events that make you groan and giggle at the same time, or if you've read and liked Chuck Palahniuk's off-the-wall sense of irony, plan on buying your copy of Doomed when it's released on October 8th of this year. That gives you plenty of time to read Damned, the first book in this series, which is available at your favorite local bookstore now.