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Pygmy Paperback – April 20, 2010
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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From Publishers Weekly
Palahniuk's 10th novel (after Snuff) is a potent if cartoonish cultural satire that succeeds despite its stridently confounding prose. A gang of adolescent terrorists trained by an unspecified totalitarian state (the boys and girls are guided by quotations attributed to Marx, Hitler, Augusto Pinochet, Idi Amin, etc.) infiltrate America as foreign exchange students. Their mission: to bring the nation to its knees through Operation Havoc, an act of mass destruction disguised as a science project. Narrated by skinny 13-year-old Pgymy, the propulsive plot deconstructs American fixtures, among them church (religion propaganda distribution outlet), spelling bees (forced battle to list English alphabet letters) and TV news reporters (Horde scavenger feast at overflowing anus of world history), before moving on to a Columbine-like shooting spree by a closeted kid who has fallen in love with the teenage terrorist who raped him in a shopping mall bathroom. Decoding Palahniuk's characteristically scathing observations is a challenge, as Pygmy's narrative voice is unbound by rules of grammar or structure (a typical sentence: Host father mount altar so stance beside bin empty of water), but perseverance is its own perverse reward in this singular, comic accomplishment. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
"What will he think of next?" asked the flabbergasted critic from the New York Times Book Review. Indeed, while several reviewers praised the novel as a darkly humorous commentary on American society, most agreed it contained serious flaws. Palahniuk's tenth novel seems designed to flummox readers with its extreme profanity, graphic sexual violence involving minors, and portrayal of adults as either brainless buffoons or shameless perverts. Critics were also split on the author's repeated use of an undefined syntax, reminiscent of pidgin English, throughout. What readers, after all, will have the patience to read sentences like, "Revered soon dying mother, distribute you ammunitions correct for Croatia-made forty-five-caliber, long-piston-stroke APS assault rifle"? Overall, critics acknowledged that diehard Palahniuk fans might savor Pygmy but that most folks would find it too stomach-turning. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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....