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Snuff Hardcover – May 20, 2008
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Palahniuk's audacious ninth novel tells the story of Cassie Wright, an aging porn queen who intends to put an exclamation point on her career by having sex with 600 men in one day on film. The story begins with Mr. 600—the pornosaur who introduced Cassie to the business—as he describes the other 599 actors awaiting their moment on screen. The perspective then shifts to Mr. 72, an adopted Midwestern 20-something who is one of the many young men claiming to be Cassie's long-lost son. Mr. 137, a has-been television star hoping to revive his career, wants to ask Cassie's hand in marriage so that the two can star in a reality TV show. But for a novel centered around a gargantuan gangbang, there's surprisingly little action; the small amount of narrative movement takes place backstage, where the characters attempt to get a sense of one another while waiting for their number to be called. There are sharp moments when Palahniuk compassionately and candidly examines the flesh-on-film industry, but mostly this reads like a cross between the Spice Channel and Days of Our Lives. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Palahniuk has followed his tendency towards sensationalism to its logical conclusion and written a novel about a pornographic film, to mixed reactions. Naysayers wrote that Snuff either failed in its satirical role or, worse, Palahniuk has simply run out of ideas and only wants to make readers cringe. Yet other reviewers felt that, as in previous novels, Palahniuk’s strong, character-driven explorations of the unseemly actually reveal a great deal about our society. Certainly, he riffs cleverly on Cassie’s cinematic history (“Gropes of Wrath,” for example). But Palahniuk’s play on movies and literature in the context of this novel perhaps points to an important question raised by the New York Times Book Review: “What the hell is going on? The country that produced Melville, Twain and James now venerates King, Crichton, Grisham, Sebold and Palahniuk.”
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
This is the third novel by author Chuck Palahniuk and once again he proves why he should be crowned the king of the bizarre sides of the human psyche. While his tales aren't necessarily horror in the scary sense, they are definitely horror in the fact that they are so disturbing that they will stay with you for a long time to come. This is the second story I've read by him that delves into the twisted dark vortex of sexual deviancy. Palahniuk has a way of opening up the human mind and showing the readers the real darkness that can lie within.
There is a lot of strong language and extremely graphic sexual scenes dealing with the porn industry so go into this book knowing this. The other thing I noted was that I wish there was at least one chapter told from the point of view of Cassie. We catch a glimpse of her through her conversations with her personal assistant but I felt it could use a bit more.
I gave this one a 4 out of 5. The characters are well developed and though I speculated on the outcome of this plot as it unravelled I was still surprised by the ending. From beginning to end, I kept being shocked by things that happened and it creeped me out knowing that these thoughts and acts could really happen. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Mr. Palahniuk and to those that like to be shocked and are not easily offended.
Palahniuk's "Snuff", however, has disappointed many a die-hard fan with the lack of substance and the feeling of being hit over the head with so many porn references, you actually feel a bit filthy when you're done reading it.
"Snuff" is a story told from the different perspectives of "Sheila", "Mr. 600", "Mr. 72", and "Mr. 137", all playing a role in the production of World Whore Three, a film that aging porn queen Cassie Wright, (the fictional equivalent to Jenna Jameson), is trying to film as a final hurrah. In it, Cassie will attempt to film the blowout of her career by having sex with 600 different men. The common idea is that Cassie will die by the end of the production, figuring the human body cannot take so much action, but someone may have a plan to kill her before that happens. Either way, they'll all go down in history for being a part of this, so it doesn't matter when she dies, right?
The entire story takes place mainly in the greenroom of this porn production, where 600 men are standing around naked, waiting for their turn with Cassie. They all have their numbers written on their arm and await "Sheila's", (the wrangler's), cattle call to bring them in for their 15 seconds of fame. During their waiting period, they try to get to know each other a bit better to pass the time and end up discovering things about each other that they would rather not have known in the first place.
The book focuses more on "Mr. 600", "Mr. 72" and "Mr. 137", mainly because each of them has a larger reason for being there than to just be part of the production. "Mr. 600" is a fellow aging porn star who starts off the narration in this book. He is the one who introduced Cassie Wright to the world of porn in the first place and he hasn't quite come to terms with the fact that he isn't as young as he used to be. He's been in the business a long time, which gives him the right to judge everyone else in the room while he shaves the tiniest hairs off of every inch of his body.
"Sheila" is the wrangler who is gathering up three men at a time to go in and have their few seconds with Cassie. She has been a personal assistant to Cassie in the past, and it is through their interaction that we get our only tidbits of trivia in the book. She helped Cassie set up this production and pick the actors whom she'd be with on film.
"Mr. 72" is a sad character whose sex life was ruined when he was younger. He spent a lot of time fantasizing over Cassie as a young man, going so far as to work extra hard at odd jobs to save up enough money for a life-size, realistic blow-up doll of her, only to find out from his adopted mother, while still in the act with the doll, that Cassie is supposedly his real-life mother. He has come to this production, bouquet of roses in hand, to try and save her from the life she has lived.
"Mr. 137" is a has-been television star who is hoping to start anew by asking for Cassie's hand in marriage and selling their life together as a reality television show. He has done some things in his past he wasn't proud of, like starred in a homosexual gangbang porn film, and when he tried to tell his father that he was gay, his father refused to hear it, saying that the son only felt that way because his father touched him when he was younger. The other men in the greenroom speculate from his appearance that he might be diseased.
The problem with this book, as opposed to other Palahniuk novels is that it almost feels rushed. You want so much more from these characters, to understand them better, but you only get a vague sense of their characters from minor experiences in their pasts that provide a small inkling into their possibly deeper interiors. The satire for which Palahniuk is so well known is still apparent, but the story seems to actually become a satire of itself.
This is a very short read with larger type that fools you into thinking the book is longer based on its thicker pages. This book gives off the impression that it should have been a novella, but was marketed as a novel. Also, the trivia facts that always make Palahniuk's books gleam and make even a weaker story worth the read are few and far between in this book. The taste Palahniuk does give you comes mostly from Cassie, a source not entirely intelligent and quite apathetic, which has you questioning the credibility of these so-called "facts".
If you have never read Palahniuk before, you should not start with this book. The better choices would be the obvious "Fight Club" or "Invisible Monsters".