Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Promising Book That Descends into Hell, March 19, 2009
This review is from: Pain Killers: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I want to like Pain Killers, I really do. Jerry Stahl's style is dark, sharp, caustic and amusing and in Pain Killers he flashes some moments of brilliance. Unfortunately those high moments are eclipsed by a near fetish obsession with the politics of the Holocaust and most specifically Josef Mengele.

With a solid set up, extraordinarily strong main character and pitch perfect first act Pain Killers seems like it could be an absolute break out book. The book takes an extreme left turn about mid way through that completely derails the initial momentum and narrative. Stahl seemed to have a choice, either follow the arch of Manny Rupert or go for Mengele. He chose the latter and the final act of the book is so absurd and ridiculous that it decimates everything before it.

Stahl's writing peaks early on with descriptions that leap off the page, but as the book goes on he loses touch with the world he's created in order to revisit the theme of the politics of the Holocaust and how maybe human experiments aren't such a 'bad' thing. To most this theme will be distasteful enough to completely skip this book, I found it pretty hard to stomach. The real audience for this book are Stahl fans, perhaps people who've already read Plainclothes Naked, otherwise readers looking for something edgy would do much better with Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis.
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Location: Marblehead, Ma

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,784