Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Book Report: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm the guy at my work who reads books. In a building of about 300 people if you asked someone if they knew me, half the people would say"Is he the one who's always reading?" The answer would be yes, but he's the one who is always reading at lunch instead of pretending to enjoy being interested in your life. I pretty much will only read at home if the book I'm reading is really really good.

At lunch today I finished reading Survivor. A book by the author if Fight Club about the sole survivor of a religous clut who's member all killed themselves except him. He's telling his story to the black box of a plane he hijacked for the sole purpose of killing himself. This was my second book by Palahniuk, the first being Lullaby (the story of a poem that when recited, or even thought about will kill whoever you want). I felt the same way about Survivor as I did Lullaby: Palahniuk has amazing ideas. He writes amazing sentences, amazing paragraphs, amazing pages, but the books aren't amazing. I know he has a huge cultish following, but his style of writing is too choppy and sometimes drawn out. Lullaby could have been a 20 page short story, then it would have been amazing. Survivor could have done without about 50 of its 289 pages (which is actually numbered in reverse order as the suicide counts down). I could open the book to any page and find a few sentences strung together that are so creative that I feel ashamed of my unimaganitive self, but then on the opposing page there will be a few sentences I can barely get through without skipping one or two of them.

I don't know if the character development is done in such a way that you don't really care if he dies or not, but I really didn't. I kinda wanted him to fall in love with the female lead character, but didn't care if he didn't. If Palahniuk's characters had more emotion I would have liked the story a lot better, but since they didn't care about themselves, neither did I.

My Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Typical good excerpt:

"It used to be this was a lot of fun. People just call you on the verge of suicide. Women would call. Here I am alone with my goldfish, alone in my dirty kitchen breading a pork chop or whatnot, wearing just my boxers, hearing somebody's prayer. Dishing out guidance and punishment.

A guy will call. After I'm fast asleep, it happens. The calls will come all night if I don't unplug the phone. Some loser will call tonight just after the bars close to say he's sitting cross-legged on the floor in his apartment. He can't sleep without having these terrible nightmares. In his dreams, he sees planes full of people crash. It's so real and then no one will help him. He can't sleep. He can't get help. He tells me he's got a rifle tucked up under his chin and he wants me to give him one good reason not to pull the trigger.

He can't live with knowing the future and not being able to save anyone.

These victims, the call. These chronic sufferes. They call. They break up my own little tedium. It's better than television.

I tell him, Go ahead. I'm only half awake. It's three in the morning, and I have to work tomorrow. I tell him, Hurry before I fall back asleep, pull the trigeer.

I tell him this isn't such a beautiful world that he has to stay in it and suffer. This isn't much of a world at all."

good stuff..


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