Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Page Count: 416
I knew pretty much what to expect going into this book because I’ve read Palahniuk before and his stuff is always pretty mental. Still, each of his books is a very different creature, and indeed creature is probably the word for it. They feel alive somehow, with their own personalities, and this one was no different.
Here, the general idea is that a bunch of people go off to a writers’ retreat and this book is kind of the product of their labour, with different stories contributed by the different fictional characters, along with an overall narrative that ties them all together. I particularly enjoyed the free verse poetry that Palahniuk used to break the sections up and also to introduce each of the characters. That might have been my favourite bit.
But of course, aside from that, there’s still plenty to enjoy. The characters inside aren’t exactly named per se, but instead they’re given aliases that are based on the items that they took with them to the retreat. This puts an interesting spin on the story and the process of getting to know them, and it also helps to give the book it’s Palahniuk feel.
I’m not sure it’s really the kind of book where you can have favourite stories from within the collection because they’re sort of all interlinked, and they all build from and play off each other. It’s also pretty cool how each story is its own little narrative, and yet they also all combine to tell an overall story. It’s super difficult to pull that off, but Palahniuk does a great job of it here and I have no complaints.
So yeah, it’s definitely one that I’d recommend, and it would also work pretty well as an introduction to his work if you’re new to him, although despite the fact that it’s structured as a short story collection, I would warn you that it still reads and feels very much like a novel. And if you’re going to read one of Palahniuk’s novels, you should probably read Fight Club if you haven’t already and then I’d recommend Rant above this because it’s my favourite of his.
But speaking of the gimmick of presenting it as a series of stories from a bunch of writers on a retreat, that was possibly my favourite part of the whole thing. It made it meta, which I love.