Sunday, March 11, 2007

16. Diary: a novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Diary cover pictureI've had a few recommendations to read Chuck Palahniuk. It was the one that came after the 4th pitcher, along with the argument that he writes concisely, that convinced me to actually give him a try. The specific book (Lullaby) in question wasn't available at the library, so I took out Diary.

I had no real expectations. The story starts out sort of indirectly, written in a mix of third and second person, as if you are being spoken to. It narrates the life of a woman who is currently living on an old blue-blood island somewhere off the northeastern coast of the U.S. She was originally from a small trailer-trash town in the midwest, went to art school where she met this young boy from the island. She had dreams of becoming a great painter, but instead got pregnant, fat and ended up waiting tables at the island's only hotel. Her husband tried to kill himself and is now in a coma. But shit is getting weirder and it seems to be amping up. Her husband was a contractor for people's summer homes and now they are all calling her, in yuppy outrage, discovering that he had done some bizarre remodeling in their absence, such as sealing off entire rooms. Worse, when re-opened, the walls of the rooms are covered in crazy, violent graffitti.

Diary goes into a few interesting areas, critiquing art school and rich art students, attacking our consumerist society and it's endless appetite for new vacations spots to take over and destroy, there's even a bit of art theory. But the story keeps moving forward and the prose is entertaining. [sort of spoilers ahead]Because I had no expectations, I was concerned that the book was going to go into some weird places without actually concluding the story or revealing the mystery. It turns out to have a very solid backstory and a very cool one at that. The book is very much a classic horror tale. Ironically, in some ways I was almost dissapointed that it made so much sense at the end. Could it be that I am becoming more sophisticated? (highly doubtful). I think it was more that when the actual situation becomes clear it is done in such a blatant, obvious way that after the weirder, less direct prose of the first two-thirds, it's kind of jarring.

Cool book, though. I will definitely check out more of his work.

1 comment:

beemused said...

hmm, this does sound quite interesting. esp. the critiques about rich art school kids. they bug me. nice review.