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Pygmy Paperback – April 20, 2010
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A gang of adolescent terrorists, a spelling bee, and a terrible plan masquerading as a science project: This is Operation Havoc.
Pygmy is one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the US disguised as exchange students. Living with American families to blend in, they are planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism that will bring this big dumb country and its fat dumb inhabitants to their knees. Palahniuk depicts Midwestern life through the eyes of this indoctrinated little killer in a cunning double-edged satire of American xenophobia.
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This story is about a young boy who has "infiltrated" America along with a handful of other children to take down the country from the inside. However, Palahnuik chose to write this story from the main character's perspective, which means that its written in the broken English the main character speaks in. This makes the book almost impossible to read. I often found myself having to read a sentence four or five times in order to figure out what was actually being said. That being said, I managed to work my way through the book until a particularly graphic rape scene that I could not work forward from.
The idea was creative, but this book overall was a swing and a miss.
This is a great satire of the way we live and how an outsider may view it; that outsider being a foreign secret agent.
Not everything here that is funny is spelled out for you like it was in Fight Club or Choke.
This book is not for everyone; I've given this to people and they hated it; either the crude sexual stuff or the point of view or whatever else.
I nonetheless found it entertaining.
First, I though the voice used in the novel, which was the "Engrish" voice of a foreign child, worked well in the context of the novel. It created funny interpretations and some funny misunderstandings throughout the novel. It was also interesting to hear the protagonist describe particular events or objects in a very objective matter, and figuring out what he was talking about created an interesting moment of reflection. This even more effective when reflected with the addition of the heavily scientific terminology that the protagonist used in the novel.
The story itself was probably the major weakness of the novel. It felt a little disconnected and I never really felt it take its stride. It was by no means absent, but it never really felt full. A lot individual events in the novel were very entertaining and well written, especially towards the end. But there was decent amount of downtime between these moments, and for such a sort novel as it is, it was a bit dry. Palahniuk's description of some of the events in the novel are just downright brutal. This should not come to much of surprise, and I for one think it works well for him, but some may consider it overboard and might lose interest at this point. So, if you have found other Palahniuk novels to be a bit to gruesome, that is also present here too.
Finally, the novel is really confusing to get a hold of at first, and even up until the end still kinda keeps the reader a bit off their mark. Sometimes this winds up working well for the story, but in this case it just felt like it made it a bit more convoluted then it needed to be at times. Sure, there were many moments of "aha" at the end when things started to come together, but it was a bit frustrating at times to get to those.
Chuck's new book is different, much, much different. As you have already read on every other review, its written in broken English, the way a foreign exchange student with very little knowledge of the English language might speak. It does'nt take long to get used to, if your a big fan of Palahniuk, don't let it scare you off, it's not that bad.
I love Chuck's books, I haven't read them all, but "Pygmy" is ten times funnier and better than "Snuff", but not as good as "Fight Club" or "Haunted"!
"Pygmy" has alot of laughs, a little rape, a little terrorism, love, school violence and a whole lot of death.
Pygmy is quite the main character, the names he calls his host family throughout the book are great- Cow father, Chicken mother, Cat sister & Pig Dog brother. His karate moves are sharp, their names are sharper -"lashing lynx", "monkey mash", "punching panda", "striking cobra quick kill", "barracuda deadly eye gouge" and my favorite the "cobra one strike no blood" and so, so many more.
Within the first three chapters, Pygmy himself teaches a school bully or as he calls him (clear yellow bully) a "hard" lesson after he abuses Pig Dog Brother at Walmart!
Another very funny, shocking good, not great read from Palahniuk. I think he took a big chance with this book and it paid off, it is definitely original! Chuck is a great writer and as always I now await the arrival of his next book....