20070615

Haunted

Chuck Palahniuk - Haunted

Betyg: 3

Bunch of people, aspiring writers, answer an ad: spend three months locked away together, no contact at all with the outside world, completely top secret, just write. Of course, Palahniuk seems to think, no "normal" people would agree to such an idea, and as it turns out all of them have something to hide. And as they introduce themselves, one by one, and tell their stories, everything inside the house starts to go wrong...

Haunted is a satire on modern society (of course); the culture of victimization, the glorification of suffering, every bad thing human beings can do to each other and themselves for a place in the spotlight, a confirmation that they exist and that they matter. The need to create a villain to blame for everything we do ourselves. The house is equal parts Frankenstein, Masque of the Red Death and Big Brother, and soon turns into one of the grisliest stories this side of... well, I kept coming back to Bret Easton Ellis and Ryu Murakami. Both of whom, I'd have to say, do a better job, even if Palahniuk does his best to outsplatter anyone out there. It's not that the stories themselves are lacking, but the framework gets boring. Our anti-heroes are a bunch of pathetic idiots, more than willing to mutilte themselves and be able to say "Hey, look, I'm the victim here!" when the TV cameras come. I couldn't care less about them as individuals, and while the gore is interesting, it also gets incredibly repetitive; we GET it, Chuck, they're all symbols of today's mentality, yada yada yada. Just not very convincing symbols. And there's always the danger of the double-edged irony; to make fun of our thirst for scandal, blood, pain and suffering, Palahniuk has to play to those exact desires. It's a bit like (though better than) Hostel in that way; any attempt to make gore fans choke on their precious gore is bound to fail more often than it succeeds.

No, the saving grace is mostly in the short stories they tell each other. Some of which are truly great - visceral, emotional, funny as hell - and are the reason I will investigate Palahniuk further. Haunted is less than the sum of its parts, but some of those parts are pretty damn choice.

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