Customer Reviews


435 Reviews
5 star:
 (136)
4 star:
 (105)
3 star:
 (65)
2 star:
 (59)
1 star:
 (70)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Churn your stomach
Chuck Palahniuk is most known as the author of Fight Club, the book that became the movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton; and overnight Palahniuk had a cult following. Erie, scary, and terrifying; if I had to use three words to describe this book, that would be it. Robert A. Heinlien the classic Science Fiction author once quipped "One man's theology is another man's belly...
Published on May 1, 2006 by Steven R. McEvoy

versus
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the review I wanted to write
I wanted to write a review of how great this book was. How Palahniuk wrote another amazing novel. It looks like I'm not going to get the chance.

I got this book fairly late, maybe a couple months after it had come out. I had heard the hype, most of which centered around the opening short story, "Guts." I was a little unsure about it, because so much hype...
Published on August 16, 2005 by the corporal


‹ Previous | 1 244 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Churn your stomach, May 1, 2006
Chuck Palahniuk is most known as the author of Fight Club, the book that became the movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton; and overnight Palahniuk had a cult following. Erie, scary, and terrifying; if I had to use three words to describe this book, that would be it. Robert A. Heinlien the classic Science Fiction author once quipped "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." Of this book I would state, "One man's perversion is another man's pleasure." This book will hit both, depending on who you are and your sensibilities.

This book is a collection of short stories, written by characters who are on a writer's retreat. They all responded to an ad to "give up three months of your life and create the masterpiece you have always said you would". Each of the 18 respondents had an idea of where they would be going - to a large country estate, a camp in the woods; yet the reality is they get locked into an old ornate theatre house. They have food, shelter, and facilities, yet all doors are locked, all windows bricked over and no way out.

From there the book becomes a cross between Fear Factor, Survivor and your most feared horror story. We see the depths to which people will descend to achieve fame and riches. Palahniuk, during the current book tour, was reading the first story called `Guts' and to date there have been 63 people who have passed out with many people being injured falling into book cases in book stores. This book will at times, turn your stomach, but will give you an understanding of the darkest side of human nature.

Readers beware! This book is like the fight club movie on super steroids.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


74 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Upchuck, strikes again, May 1, 2006
This review is from: Haunted: A Novel (Paperback)
Chuck Palahniuk is most known as the author of Fight Club, the book that became the movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton; and overnight Palahniuk had a cult following. Erie, scary, and terrifying; if I had to use three words to describe this book, that would be it. Robert A. Heinlien the classic Science Fiction author once quipped "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." Of this book I would state, "One man's perversion is another man's pleasure." This book will hit both, depending on who you are and your sensibilities.

This book is a collection of short stories, written by characters who are on a writer's retreat. They all responded to an ad to "give up three months of your life and create the masterpiece you have always said you would". Each of the 18 respondents had an idea of where they would be going - to a large country estate, a camp in the woods; yet the reality is they get locked into an old ornate theatre house. They have food, shelter, and facilities, yet all doors are locked, all windows bricked over and no way out.

From there the book becomes a cross between Fear Factor, Survivor and your most feared horror story. We see the depths to which people will descend to achieve fame and riches. Palahniuk, during the current book tour, was reading the first story called `Guts' and to date there have been 63 people who have passed out with many people being injured falling into book cases in book stores. This book will at times, turn your stomach, but will give you an understanding of the darkest side of human nature.

Readers beware! This book is like the fight club movie on super steroids.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the review I wanted to write, August 16, 2005
I wanted to write a review of how great this book was. How Palahniuk wrote another amazing novel. It looks like I'm not going to get the chance.

I got this book fairly late, maybe a couple months after it had come out. I had heard the hype, most of which centered around the opening short story, "Guts." I was a little unsure about it, because so much hype tends to let me down in the end, but I gave it my best shot.

Eventually, I came to the same conclusion as most of the other reviewers on Amazon. Good stories, bad frame story. Now, I'm not complaining that the short stories inserted into the main story just rely on shock value to entertain you, because most of them don't. "Guts" is actually an amazing story, and it shows some real sophistication on Palahniuk's part. It's far from just being an opening shocker, like the first quick death in a horror movie. It's a story worth everyone's time and money.

The problem with the book as a whole, I finally decided, is that it simply doesn't go anywhere. It comes up with a few interesting metaphors, and displays a couple interesting themes, but there's just not anything very deep or thought-provoking here. For the first time in my life, reading a book by Palahniuk made me bored. One of the more interesting metaphors was alright the first time it was stated, but with the third explicit description of it around page 150, even that had been run into the ground. Yes, the book is partly an examination of our obsession with reality shows and our own 15-minutes-of-fame-at-any-price mentality - but in that vein, it doesn't bother to say anything that a TV audience tired of reality shows hasn't already said on its own.

There's a line in Palahniuk's Fight Club: "Deliver us from clever art." Tragically, Palahniuk has finally produced a piece of art that I find to be merely "clever." Talking up the process of assembling the stories into a single frame story, conveniently comparing it to the famous story of the Villa Diodati, and calling himself a "minimalist" (if he was such a minimalist, I would think the poems in the book would never have seen print) don't make up for the fact that this book simply can't stand on its own. I would have expected Palahniuk to just put out the collection of short stories, even if conventional wisdom says that short story collections don't sell very well. An established author like Palahniuk could manage to make his publishers some money, and an author as innovative and fresh as Palahniuk should have had the integrity to give us only his best.

If you're a die-hard fan, you'll probably buy this book anyway, as I did. You may or may not return it, as I did. If you're new to Palahniuk, drop this and read his debut, Fight Club, and then some of his other novels (Choke is a personal favorite of mine). When Palahniuk comes out with another book, I'll certainly read it, but this one is getting passed over, much to my dismay.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


89 of 108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 stars for the main story, 5 stars for the short stories, May 3, 2005
By 
I have enjoyed all of Palahniuk's past books in varying degrees. A few are worth 5 stars, the rest 4 stars, but all of them have been consistently enjoyable. Unfortunately, his new book is not consistently good.

I read somewhere in an interview that Palahniuk has originally planned this book as a novella and then would release the short stories separately. While a book of just these short stories would have been worth 5 stars, the novella about the writer's retreat could have damaged his career. I hate to say it, but it is just not very good, and not even close to what he can write.

The main story about the writers who go on the retreat is just not believable to me. In a normal Palahniuk book you meet some really weird people who do some crazy stuff but it manages to barely stay within reality. Not this book. I just can't picture people hacking off body parts, ruining their food supply, eating each other, and intentionally sabotaging their escape just to be able to cash in on the book and movie royalties about their experiences when they finally "get" out. It has some classic Palahniuk moments, but the plot is just too unreal. Also, I never found myself caring even the slightest bit for any of the characters. They could have all died or all lived and I would not have cared.

However, the book is not without merit. The characters who attend this retreat write some stories and it is these short stories that are the shining light of this book and the reason that I rated it a 4 instead of a 3. Almost all of them are good and some of them are just plain great. The now infamous story "Guts" is included, along with others that are almost as nuts.

I find it hard to criticize an author whom I enjoy so much, but I know he has the talents (proven in the past) to write something much better. The book is worth buying for the short stories (I am sure many people will also like the main story) though I can't help feeing that it could have been one of his best books if the main story had been more realistic.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, October 13, 2005
As many of you probably already know, 'Haunted' wasn't originally planned as a single text. The short stories and the central narrative were originally intended to be separate works, but he just decided to combine them. This helps explain why most of the short stories don't really have much of anything to do with anything else in the book. It's funny, I think this book would have been better received if it had just been a collection of short stories, cause now people are looking for things that aren't even supposed to be there. (Such as how you don't know any of the characters. That falls into the 'true but irrelevant' category.) Personally, I think it works best this way, and the central narrative wouldn't work nearly as well on its own, even though the stories would. (And, the stories themselves are already by far the better part.) Still, it all ends up connecting well enough simply because of the stylistic and thematic similarities throughout the book. (i.e. violence, gross-out, death, perversion, world turned upside down, minimalist writing style etc.) The central story is not particularly fascinating, but I think it works pretty well as a bridge between the individual stories. If you think of it as a novel it doesn't work too well, but as a series of interludes I think it's pretty effective. It's got some of the most gruesome-funny moments in any of his novels, and presents a nice microcosm for one of the central themes of the book. (Violence and destruction are central to human nature.) But anyway, you just need to understand, coming in that this is primarily a collection of short stories, rather than a novel. Most people still won't be pleased with this, as the novel is the preferred genre of the age, but I've always been a short story man, so it's perfect for me.

Fortunately, the stories are generallly excellent, and always interesting. 'Guts' is nearly as disgusting as advertised, no small feat. 'Slumming' and 'Footwork' are two classic examples of reality turned upside down. (The first is about wealthy socialites who moonlight as homeless people, the latter about the use of New Age medicine/therapy for unseemly and destructive purposes.) 'Swan Song' is a predictable but gut wrenching tale of the media's obsession with self-destruction. 'Dog Years' is an amusingly perverse sick joke which cannot be specifically described with out giving it away. 'Civil Twilight' is one of the very best stories, about an unknown, unseen destruction falling down on the city, and the sort of paranoia and hysteria that follows. It's perhaps the most horror-oriented story of the collection, and opens with some wonderful Lovecraftian ideas, even if the explaination proves to be more mundane. 'Speaking Bitterness' is an unnerving story of an encounter between a group of scarred, disturbed women and a supposed transsexual. 'Hot Potting' is told as an old-fashioned ghost story, with some truly haunting imagery. The heart of the book is found in the 4 story series from Mrs. Clark, primarily about the slow death of her daughter Cassandra. 'The Nightmare Box' is probably my favorite story in the book, about a, well, Nightmare Box that permanently warps anyone who looks in it. I'll admit, the central conceit of that story isn't particularly great, but it's a perfect display of the slow build up to the revelation of what actually is inside the box. 'Obsolete' is the final story of the book, and is another one which can't be described at all with out giving it all away. It's a fun one though, and far different from what came before. I suppose that's enough specifics. None of the 23 stories is remotely close to bad.

The book has a number of poems in it. None of them are particularly remarkable, but they're short enough that they don't really detract, and provide a nice transition to the short stories. Also, there are a number of nice lines and images spread out through them.

Palahniuk's critics love to dismiss his work as 'adolescent', a classic way to denigrate a work with out actually making an argument. (And Palahniuk's not an adolescent, nor is he an idiot, so this argument doesn't do much, even if it actually meant anything in and of itself.) Certainly, his work is usually sensational and extreme, but I can't really imagine why this should be a bad thing. I guess truly great writers don't need to say anything novel or interesting. They can just write bland, humdrum crap and it'll be fabulous because of their inner brilliance. Well, you guys can all go read Henry James if you want, but I'll stick with something interesting. And 'Haunted' is about as interesting as is gets.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man, this book is great, June 14, 2005
By 
When Haunted first came out, all the negative reviews on this site scared me away from actually buying it. What they said seemed plausible - I'm not a diehard Palahniuk fan, and I had no trouble believing the suggested flaws: didacticism, poor character development, over-the-top gore.

Still, I had sometimes liked Chuck's work in the past, and the premise sounded too intriguing to be total waste of paper. So I engaged in that time-honored practice that seems like something a Chuck Palahniuk character might do: I read the book in the bookstores, with the air conditioning, on the comfy chairs they provided - three chapters in one Barnes & Noble, then, when the security guard started to give me a funny look, on to the Borders down the street. I read about half of it in one day this way.

There is a point to this story.

By the end of that day, I was thinking - "Hey, this book is actually pretty good so far. All the better I didn't have to pay for it."

The next day, I started on the second half. I sat in the bookstore for four hours, hunched over, dead to the world, until it was eight forty-five and a clerk came by to tell me the store was closing. I was a few chapters shy of the end. I could have come back the next day and finished it off in fifteen minutes - but instead I bought it, the whole twenty-five dollar hardcover, cutting a huge hole in my sorely-needed monthly budget, and finished it on the subway home.

The point of the story, don't make the same mistake. Save yourself the trouble and buy it now.

As for the book itself, what to say...I don't exactly refute those complaints leveled against it; I can't argue that it _isn't_ very bloody or that is has _great_ character development. But that's not really the point. The best argument against the argument against Haunted is the book itself, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject.

1) Palahniuk's prose is marked by phrases, usually overgeneralized statements about human nature, that seem like trite condensations of his message: greeting-card diatribes, if you will. But I don't think any of these little aphorisms are _really_ Palahniuk's message. What I think he's done is found a way to work with 'message' the way authors have been working with theme and tone for decades. "Show instead of tell" is the cardinal rule of writing, but by carefully manipulating what he tells us, Palahniuk is often remarkably subtle. The trick is to look beyond at the aphorisms - at the narrative itself.

2) A lot of people have said that the stories are better than the overarching narrative. That may be true, but I don't think the stories could stand independantly of the narrative. If the stories were just packaged together, they wouldn't have anywhere near the impact - they reader wouldn't see how they were connected, and the violence and grotesquery might seem even more pointless.

All I can say is that I think the book _does_ have a point, and that there's nothing either simple, cynical, preachy or simple-minded about it. Haunted may be my favorite Palahniuk book so far.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about humanity, not gore, June 12, 2005
By 
Michael Feldman (Los Angeles, California USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Reading all of the reviews about Haunted, I have to say that I am not surprised at how many people were sidetracked by the extreme amount of gore in this book. Yes, there is a lot, and in some instances, like the infamous "Guts," it can be quite hard to take. But why is it so hard to take? What is it about Palahniuk's writing that inspires people to faint at readings of his stories?

What is so brilliant about this book is that it creates an illusion of having some sort of epic plot about a bunch of writers that want fame and fortune and will do anything to get it. But the book is clearly not about this plot; the anti-climactic ending is testament to that. It is about the short stories, and what as a whole they say.

People get affected so deeply by a story like "Guts" because it could happen to anyone. That is why it is a perfect beginning to this collection. For the events in the other stories to happen to someone, they would have to have certain traits or social situations (rich, training in foot massage, gourmet cooking), but what is great is how similar these stories ultimately are to "Guts."

At first, I thought Palahniuk was being a sloppy writer by having almost all of the voices of the various characters sound exactly like each other. But he's too good and creative of a writer to unconsciously do that. To me, this book is about the universality of human suffering and the lengths we go to in order to cope with that suffering. Everyone has had pain in their lives that is too painful or awkward to tell others, an "invisible carrot" as Palahinuk calls it. What these characters are doing is trying to get it out through their writing, which is a common and worthy method of dealing with this suffering.

Of course, they go insane and eventually massacre each other, but that is because they are trying to force creativity and find they can only talk about themselves; there is no effort by any of the characters to go beyond their own pain and create something like Frankenstein or Dracula, which are both based on universal human fears. Instead, they must place the blame and monster status on someone really just like them, Mr. Whittier, and make the situation look as horrific as it can be in order to justify this artifical status.

It is telling that the "villain," Mr. Whittier, is the only one that can write a story not about himself, and it is definitely one of the better and more creative stories in the collection. It is a great irony that the monster that the writers have been trying to manufacture instead of create, Mr. Whittier, is the most creative of all.

Of all the short stories in this collection, perhaps my favorite is "Exodus." It is a story that has such an incredible emotional depth, and in that story more than most the gore serves the emotion so directly I actually think of it as one of the least shocking stories. The book has standout moments like this, but it is not about standout moments. It is about a collection of stories from characters that have no creativity because they are too haunted by their own experiences.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not for everyone, July 21, 2006
This review is from: Haunted: A Novel (Paperback)
I know I'm in the minority, but I was never really much of a fan of the movie Fight Club. For that reason, I'd never been all that inclined to read Chuck Palahniuk, the author whose novel inspired the film. Nonetheless, reading the general description of his book Haunted was enough to pique my interest, so I picked up a copy. What I got was a book that was imperfect but reasonably entertaining.

Haunted follows a group of individuals who've joined a rather mysterious writer's workshop. For three months, they will in complete isolation from the outside world, a condition similar to what Lord Byron, Mary Shelley and others faced in the nineteenth century; that isolated group produced works like Frankenstein; who knows what this group will produce.

Unfortunately, all these characters are apparently insane and start to destroy their environment. As a result, they're trapped in a place with very limited food or other resources. As they cope with their increasingly desperate circumstances, they tell stories about themselves. These tales form the bulk of the book, and give insights into these very warped people.

Much of Haunted's stories - as well as the framing narrative - is pretty disturbing; one story is literally gut-wrenching (you'll know it when you read it). If you are expecting realistic behavior, however, this is not the book for you; all the characters and situations are absurd, but it generally works well in the context Palahniuk has designed. It is, however, the biggest problem with the story: the characters act in a way that appears so irrational that it is hard to identify with (let alone like) anyone involved.

There are several obvious inspirations for this book, from classic literature such as The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron to more modern entertainments such as Survivor or Big Brother, but Palahniuk leaves his own imprint on the concepts. This is not a book for everyone, but if you enjoy off-beat literature which can easily shock, you should enjoy this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, May 31, 2006
By 
J. Brady (PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Quite tedious, and hopelessly desperate in its attempt to shock, Haunted is so poorly constructed I had to force myself to finish it. Which is really a shame, because the premise is terrifc and very promising. But it's the execution that leaves me cold. Palahniuk's characters - and their bad short stories and even worse poems - are so outre, but so obvious, that reading this novel is akin to being kicked in the gut repeatedly. The first few blows smart, but you are so numb by the end that it's all absolutely empty and meaningless. No subtlety, no variety, and no humor. This is not my first Palahniuk novel, but it might just be my last.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fight Club on Steroids, March 27, 2007
This review is from: Haunted (Hardcover)
Chuck Palahniuk is most known as the author of Fight Club, the book that became the movie with Brad Pitt and Ed Norton; and overnight Palahniuk had a cult following. Erie, scary, and terrifying; if I had to use three words to describe this book, that would be it. Robert A. Heinlien the classic Science Fiction author once quipped "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." Of this book I would state, "One man's perversion is another man's pleasure." This book will hit both, depending on who you are and your sensibilities.

This book is a collection of short stories, written by characters who are on a writer's retreat. They all responded to an ad to "give up three months of your life and create the masterpiece you have always said you would". Each of the 18 respondents had an idea of where they would be going - to a large country estate, a camp in the woods; yet the reality is they get locked into an old ornate theatre house. They have food, shelter, and facilities, yet all doors are locked, all windows bricked over and no way out.

From there the book becomes a cross between Fear Factor, Survivor and your most feared horror story. We see the depths to which people will descend to achieve fame and riches. Palahniuk, during the current book tour, was reading the first story called `Guts' and to date there have been 63 people who have passed out with many people being injured falling into book cases in book stores. This book will at times, turn your stomach, but will give you an understanding of the darkest side of human nature.

Readers beware! This book is like the fight club movie on super steroids.

(First Printed in Imprint 2005-06-03 as 'Fight Club author gets Haunted')
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 244 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Haunted: A Novel
Haunted: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk (Paperback - April 11, 2006)
$15.95 $12.19
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.