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Haunted : A Novel of Stories Hardcover – May 3, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 485 customer reviews

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The Secret Healer
In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited. But spirited young Madlen can't resist her gift for healing, even if it puts her life in danger. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What elevates Palahniuk's best novels (e.g., Fight Club) above their shocking premises is his ability to find humanity in deeply grotesque characters. But such generosity of spirit is not evident in his latest, which charts the trials of a group of aspiring writers brought together for a three-month writer's retreat in an abandoned theater. The novel intersperses the writers' poems and short stories with tales of the indignities they heap upon themselves after deciding to turn their lives into a "true-life horror story with a happy ending." They lock themselves in the theater, reasoning that once they're found, they'll all become rich and famous. They raise the stakes of their story by first depriving themselves of phones, and then of food and electricity; eventually they cut off their own fingers, toes and unmentionables before they start dying off and eating each other. Palahniuk tells his story with such blithe disregard for these characters that it's hard not to wish he had dispensed with the novel altogether and published, instead, the 23 short stories that pop up throughout the book. For instance, "Obsolete," about a young girl about to commit state-mandated suicide, and "Slumming," about rich couples who pretend to be homeless, play so deftly with expectations and have an emotional core so surprising that they consistently, powerfully transcend their macabre premises to showcase the heart beating beneath the horrors.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

It shouldn’t surprise that Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel is a gross out. All of his books, including Fight Club, Choke, and Lullaby, have required various degrees of intestinal fortitude. Some critics note that he’s turned the corner with Haunted, a book that has "plenty of guts, but little glory" (Chicago Sun-Times). Though the Portland-based proponent of Dangerous Writing continues to deliver his imaginative stories in an appealing, deadpan prose, the flat characters, questions about his intent, and the overall gross-out factor diminish this "ad-hoc diet book" as just another workshop failure (New York Times).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385509480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385509480
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (485 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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