March 1, 2011

Review: Snuff- Where the reader gets screwed.

Reading Chuck Palahniuk's novels have convinced me of one simple fact: that ever since Fight Club, ol' Chuck is coasting.

Snuff tells the story of a come-back-seeking porno actress trying to break the world group-sex record, as told by the 600 men waiting off-camera to screw her. Now Fight Club was and remains one of the most brilliant books I've ever read, but the disjointed narrative style, repetition, disaffected characters, and aggressive violence that served that book so well have frankly flopped in his other work. Instead we are left with a gross and simple little story. Gross in the childish way where the point is to shock the reader but too immature to be effective or engaging. Group sex is naughty. Peeing on a floor where people walk on bare feet is gross. Guzzling ranch dip, scooping it up with the same chip every time, is something mommy would never let us do.

On a structural level, Palahniuk makes his characters all sound the same. They all say "true fact" and they all like to listlessly recount pornographic and cinematic trivia to anyone trying to hold a conversation. The plot is singular (the entire book is just a bunch of people waiting around in the same room), the twist at the end isn't that consequential, and the end, well, isn't. I will say that the premise is decently interesting as are the various "true fact" stories the Palahniuk tells through his characters. Snuff is the kind of book that can easily be put down and resumed, but all and all really isn't worth your time.

Read it.
Skim it.
Toss it.

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