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Survivor: A Novel Hardcover – February 17, 1999

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Survivor: A Novel + Fight Club: A Novel + Doomed
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (February 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393047024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393047028
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (569 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Some say that the apocalypse swiftly approacheth, but that simply ain't so according to Chuck Palahniuk. Oh no. It's already here, living in the head of the guy who just crossed the street in front of you, or maybe even closer than that. We saw these possibilities get played out in the author's bloodsporting-anarchist-yuppie shocker of a first novel, Fight Club. Now, in Survivor, his second and newest, the concern is more for the origin of the malaise. Starting at chapter 47 and screaming toward ground zero, Palahniuk hurls the reader back to the beginning in a breathless search for where it all went wrong. This time out, the author's protagonist is self-made, self-ruined mogul-messiah Tender Branson, the sole passenger of a jet moments away from slamming first into the Australian outback and then into oblivion. All that will be left, Branson assures us with a tone bordering on relief, is his life story, from its Amish-on-acid cult beginnings to its televangelist-huckster end. All of this courtesy of the plane's flight recorder.

Speaking of little black boxes, Skinnerians would have a field day with the presenting behavior of the folks who make up Palahniuk's world. They pretend they're suicide hotline operators for fun. They eat lobster before it's quite... done. They dance in morgues. The Cleavers they are not. Scary as they might be, these characters are ultimately more scared of themselves than you are, and that's what makes them so fascinating. In the wee hours and on lonely highways, they exist in a perpetual twilight, caught between the horror of the present and the dread of the unknown. With only two novels under his belt, Chuck Palahniuk is well on his way to becoming an expert at shining a light on these shadowy creatures. --Bob Michaels

From Publishers Weekly

The rise and fall of a media-made messiah is the subject of Palahniuk's impressive second novel (after the well-received Fight Club), a wryly mannered commentary on the excesses of pop culture that tracks the 15 minutes of fame of the lone living member of a suicide cult. Tender Branson, aged 33, has commandeered a Boeing 747, emptied of passengers, in order to tell his story to the "black box" while flying randomly until the plane runs out of gas and crashes. Branson relates in his long flashback the vicissitudes of his life: a member of the repressive Creedish Death Cult, supposedly founded by a splinter group of Millerites in 1860, he is hired out as a domestic servant who must dedicate his earnings to the cult. Despite his humble beginnings, Branson finds himself on the edge of fame and fortune when the cult members begin their suicide binge, and he keeps himself on the media radar by using the psychic dreams of his potential romantic interest, Fertility Hollis, in which the girl accurately predicts a series of strange disasters. After a brief period at the top of the freak-show heap, Branson succumbs to the excesses of his trade when his agent mysteriously dies at the Super Bowl as Branson predicts the outcome of the game at half-time, simultaneously triggering a riot and turning him into a murder suspect. Branson's spookily matter of fact account of his bizarre experiences does not excite tension until the narrative is well under way, but the novel picks up momentum during the homestretch when Branson goes on the lam with Fertility and his murderous brother Adam, and the story steamrolls toward its nightmarish climax. Palahniuk's DeLilloesque cultural witticisms and his satirical take on the culture of instant celebrity invest the narrative with a dark humor that does not quite overcome its lack of a coherent plot. Agent, Edward Hibbert. (Feb.) FYI: Fight Club is being filmed by David Fincher.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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

Chuck Palahniuk's style of writing is magnificent.
If you've only watched the movie version of Fight Club, read Fight Club the book and then Choke and then this book.
In a good way... From the get go you know how this book will end but you will likely find yourself hooked anyway.
P. Murray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 149 people found the following review helpful By "figurat" on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Chuck Palaniuk (say it ten times fast) has recently stormed onto the popular literary field, thanks to David Fincher's amazing adaptation of his underground novel, FIGHT CLUB. Hopefully, if he keeps writing books this good, he can give up being a mechanic forever.
SURVIVOR begins on its final page, and shoots backwards towards page 1, always reminding you of its approaching demise. Along with the novel, the narrator is apporaching his own demise, as he pilots a commandeered airplane waiting for it to crash and explode. In order to preserve his life story, he is speaking into the black-box on-flight recorder, hoping to wipe himself out and attain immortality at the same time.
What is his problem? Well, he is the last survivor of a suicide cult, a former indentured servant in the "real world". He also narrates of his tranistion from nobody to media messiah back to nobody. In it, Palahniuk takes on a wild ride through a satire of modern society in all its little nuances. Everything from Lobster eating to TV networks gets raked over the coals in this incediary novel.
ALthough the book, like FIGHT CLUB begins to self-destruct about three quarters of the way through, the story is so compelling in its banal gruesomeness that you can't help but read it. Palahniuk is a magician who will keep you hypnotized, glued to each page until the final end of both his protagonist and the book.
Oh, and did I mention that the book is also riotously funny? It is. So in other words, one of the best books I've read in awhile.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By m_s_ on June 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Fight Club" may get all the press, notice, and attention, but in many ways Survivor is its literary equal, and maybe even a better book. Once again, Palahniuk manages to pluck a few choice elements from the boiling stew of our mass culture - apocalyptic cults, the grotesquely rich, disasters in the air (along with just enough random-but-relevant facts that leave you wondering how the heck he KNEW that) - and weave them together into a compelling adrenaline ride of a novel that also happens to be thoroughly entertaining. I HATE reviews that end up being spoilers, so I won't say any more, other than to mention that it has all the twists, turns, and extraordinary events that one would expect from a novel by Chuck Palahniuk.
Is it similar to Fight Club in some respects? Yeah.
Is it a literary masterpiece, destined to become a classic? Probably not.
But is it an excellent book to spend a few light evenings with? You bet your life it is.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Ian Arsenault ( on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Testing, testing. One, two, three.
Testing, testing. One, two, three.
Maybe this is working. I don't know. If you can even see this, I don't know. But if you can see this, read. And if you're reading, then what you've found is a review of the story of everything that went wrong.
It doesn't take a page.
And there you are at 39,000 feet. Above the clouds and in the cockpit of a Boeing 747-400 with no passengers.
And no pilot.
Final evacuation call for Chuck Palahniuk's novel, Survivor.
And don't ask if it has anything to do with the television show.
It'll just make you look stupid.
Imagine being raised for slave labor just because you were three minutes and thirty seconds too late. Imagine everyone you know and love offing themselves in a mass cult suicide. Imagine becoming a mass media produced messiah just because no one could prove otherwise.
Imagine Tender Branson, your new pilot.
He doesn't know how to fly a plane.
He'll tell you himself.
Go Ahead.
Ask him.
He's just dying to get a few things off of his chest.
This book is totally backwards. Seriously, you'll see what I mean. With a lot of similar humor and style to his first novel Fight Club, Palahniuk's Survivor is a great read for newcomers and devout fans alike. Pick up this book and you won't want to put it down. But it'll be the most time you'll ever spend reading to get to the bottom of page one.
I promise.
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Fred on May 3, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Survivor because I really liked Mr. Palahniuk's first book, "Fight Club", and I read "Fight Club" because I thought the movie was great. "Survivor" is a great book, despite it's thematic similarity to Fight Club. The plot on the other hand is very different, although some of the characters seem very familiar to ones from the author's first book. I wanted to be sure not to spoil the plot, one of the difficulties I had with "Fight Club" was my knowledge of the basic premise through having seen the movie (although I do feel there are enough differences to merit a reading of that book), however the entire plot is spelled out on the back cover of the book. Avoid that if you would like some surprises.
Mr. Palahniuk has again succeeded in creating a very unusual plot, which is as good as that of "Fight Club", but its primarily used as a vehicle to provide the same lambasting of modern society that "Fight Club" provided. The lambasting takes some new turns and has a few new targets (although cornflower blue does make a return), but the method is the same. The characters are written in much the same method and the book-ending cataclysm is very similar. While I do hope that the next book of his that I read, "Monster" is different than his first two books, I was still very pleased with "Survivor". The reason is very simple, while the two books are similar, they are both so drastically different in both style and character development than the rest of the books out there that they are very compelling and thought-provoking reads. There are few authors capable of delivering the same sophisticated, yet still blunt, critique of both the excesses and shallowness of modern American mass society.
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