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Diary: A Novel Paperback – September 14, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 291 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a first page that captures the reader hook, line and sinker, Palahniuk (Choke; Lullaby) plunges into the odd predicament of Waytansea Island resident and ex-art student Misty Marie Kleinman, whose husband, Peter, lies comatose in a hospital bed after a suicide attempt. Rooms in summer houses on the mainland that Peter has remodeled start to mysteriously disappear-"The man calling from Long Beach, he says his bathroom is missing"-and Misty, with the help of graphologist Angel Delaporte, discovers that crude and prophetic messages are scrawled across the walls and furniture of the blocked-off chambers. In her new world, where every day is "another longest day of the year," Misty suffers from mysterious physical ailments, which only go away while she is drawing or painting. Her doctor, 12-year-old daughter and mother-in-law, instead of worrying about her health, press her to paint more and more, hinting that her art will save exclusive Waytansea Island from being overrun by tourists. In the meantime, Misty is finding secret messages written under tables and in library books from past island artists issuing bold but vague warnings. With new and changing versions of reality at every turn, the theme of the "tortured artist" is taken to a new level and "everything is important. Every detail. We just don't know why, yet." The novel is something of a departure for Palahniuk, who eschews his blighted urban settings for a sinister resort island, but his catchy, jarring prose, cryptic pronouncements and baroque flights of imagination are instantly recognizable, and his sharp, bizarre meditations on the artistic process make this twisted tale one of his most memorable works to date.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Palahniuk's sixth novel takes the form of a so-called coma diary written for Peter Wilmot, who is comatose after a running-car-in-garage suicide attempt (he started with the gas tank half-empty, proving his inability to do anything well). While Peter wastes away in a hospital, his family and friends waste away on Waytansea Island ("Everyone's in their own personal coma," Palahniuk writes with his trademark optimism). Peter's art-school-prodigy-turned-bitter-waitress wife, Misty, can't afford the family mansion anymore. Tourists have overrun the whole island, and the old-money families have spent all of their old money. But no one on the island seems to care about their community-wide coma. They just want Misty to paint. She refuses--until she begins to suffer tortuous headaches that only abate when she paints. The islanders seem suspiciously keen on seeing Misty's work continue, and the only way to keep her painting is to keep her miserable. Palahniuk's fans haven't seen plot twists this good since Fight Club, but this book lacks the manic humor that makes his better novels so engrossing. The fantastically grotesque premise propels the story, but the writing lacks the satirical precision that made Palahniuk a hero to young nihilists everywhere (see his take on the travel book, reviewed on p.1858). Instead, it often reads like a self-indulgent complaint about the terrible suffering of artists. Still, excellent plotting and a compelling allegory will satisfy the majority of Palahniukites. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More from Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk's novels are wildly imaginative, with writing that is vivid, raw, and unpredictably hilarious. Visit Amazon's Chuck Palahniuk Page.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400032814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400032815
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (291 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Lullaby, Survivor, Haunted, and Invisible Monsters. Portions of Choke have appeared in Playboy, and Palahniuk's nonfiction work has been published by Gear, Black Book, The Stranger, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This review is mostly a counter argument for some of the other reviews I've read for this work. I think the people who read Palahniuk for the gut wrenchingly horrifying and morbidly twisted, yet incredibly imaginative plot lines will be somewhat disappointed with this novel. It's not the most visceral of his works. Then again, a lot of people criticize him for focusing too much on just grossing people out, but claim that his books have no substance. So, this book will definitely prove those people wrong.

I see how people could feel that this story falls considerably short of what they expect from Palahniuk. And short isn't the right word, because that has negative connotations. Maybe it falls to the right, or to the left, or maybe even higher than people's expectations (if you look in the right places). Usually his stories leave your head spinning with their absolute insanity, whereas this one kind of just leaves you humming to yourself and thinking it's all a little absurd, but not even that interesting. On the surface that is.

If you look at the story more metaphorically, and look at what the events that are taking place say about society, love, life it actually is quite interesting. If you have a familiarity with the works of Plato I think you will have fun with this book. He is referenced by name several times, but people who know his work will recognize tons of his ideas worked in. I found it intriguing the way ideas that have been around for thousands of years were worked into modern times and proved to be relevant and socially significant for the present day.

I think this book merely doesn't cater as well to thrill-seekers as much as, say, Choke or Haunted, which is definitely a huge part of Palhniuk's audience.
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Format: Paperback
Diary is one of Palahniuk's best books. It's a surprising book about life, art, and hope. I LOVED it.
Kelly Jameson
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By A Customer on August 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I anxiouslly awaited the realese of Palahniuk's sixth novel, after being enchanted by the first five I expected the same for Diary, well it didn't happen. I never thought I would say this about Chuck Palahniuk's work, but this was awful. It went nowhere for about three quarters of the novel, it seemed like I was rereading the same chapter for 200+ pages. There were no characters in the book that were remotely interesting, nor did I care what happened to them. There isn't much to sumarise because there isn't enough context to eleborate on whats written in the dust-jacket. I'm hoping that his next novel makes up for Diary. To fans of Palahniuk, I'd wait for the paper-back.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it was my fault for reading two novels consecutively by the same author. After enjoying Lullaby, I just could not see what made this book unique. Palahniuk's style shocked at first, but a book driven solely on the visceral fails to hold attention after the initial reaction has expired. Palahniuk pounds the narrator's emotion into print, chapter after chapter, but the story itself had little to say. The wealthy capitalists are manipulative and hollow... we get it, Chuck. Art derives from pain... we get it, Chuck. I found myself frustrated that I'd been taken on a very indirect rout to nowhere.
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Format: Hardcover
Overall, Diary was very good. However, it was somewhat disappointing considering the masterpieces Palahniuk has written in the past. Obviously, it was infinitely better than Laura Miller said it was in her scathing salon.com review (look at me, I write for salon.com and can say whatever I want even if it's not true at all). While I would recommend the book to a fan of Palahniuk, it surely wouldn't be the first I'd recommend to someone who hadn't read him (that would be Survivor or Fight Club, of course).
For the first 38 pages or so, I was completely lost. I had no idea what was going on. Then in a few pages all the basic things are explained. I then reread the first 38 pages again and everything made perfect sense. I don't know why it was written like this, perhaps so you pay attention to the atmosphere and details, instead of merely absorbing plot details (like that's ever a problem with one of Palahniuk's books), and while these opening pages were well written and filled with great stuff, it was still annoying, even if in the end it led to a greater appreciation. I didn't care for the supernatural stuff, and the repetition stuff seemed especially repetitive, without being as insightful as in previous books. The ideas on where we get our inspiration were very interesting, but that's about it.
I found the use of the 2nd person to be refreshing, although I don't know how women readers would like this, since "you" are a comatose male (this is revealed shortly after page 38, so it's not a spoiler, and knowing that makes the first 38 pages much more intelligible on the first read). It's not until the very last page that all the pieces of Palahniuk's idea are revealed, and I think while his execution is less than perfect (but still very good), you have to appreciate the completeness to which the idea was used and executed.
Diary is a very good book that I recommend. I rate it near Invisible Monsters, Lullaby, somewhere below Survivor and Fight Club, but above Choke.
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Format: Paperback
July 9

Today, the reader from Harrisburg finished Chuck's novel "Diary." The novel that never really convinced him was a diary, as it never stooped to that convention of writing in the first person. He read the awkward switching from third person to second person in Chuck's novel.

Your novel, Chuck.

Apparently, you are in some sort of ironic writer's coma. He is. You are. See how disconcerting this can be, carried out over 250 plus pages of his novel?

Your novel, Chuck?

If you removed all the third-to-second person clarification prose, this job drops an easy 50 pages. Take out all the adipose ramblings of subcutaneous fat and musculataure, which begin cute and end tedious, maybe we're down to a tight novella, Chuck. You are. He is.

In the middle, his novel picks up something resembling dramatic steam. He stayed the impulse to throw the book aside, half-read, Chuck. Your reader, the guy from Harrisburg. But nothing too awfully surprising happens on Waytansea Island. He, your reader, just waits and sees that you have some clever almost Nietzschean idea of eternal return and artistic hell. Did he, I mean you, Chuck, the writer of this poorly executed novel, intend some statement about artistic sacrifice? Or did he, you, I mean, intend just a good read? Because on the latter you failed, and on the former, you failed, and about the best I can summon is that you meant well, and you aren't Danielle Steele or that basic ilk.

My impression was that in picking up a Palahniuk novel, my first Palahniuk novel, his first Palahniuk novel -- your novel, Chuck -- I'd find crisp writing, challenging plot developments, and a refreshing, even bracing worldview.
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