1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 99: Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk


With books featuring multiple narrators, such as Haunted, Snuff and Rant, and distinctive narrative voices like that featured in Pigmy, I thought that Palahniuk’s own voice was expanding. His last two efforts however, Tell-All and Damned, have lead me to believe that Palahniuk has devolved somewhat. Damned proclaims itself as a cross between Dante and the Breakfast Club, and, on the outside jacket, on the inside jacket, and on nearly every page of the book, he tries to convince the reader of this, even though the would-be Breakfast Club characters are flat and one-dimensional and add little to the book other than to allow Palahniuk refer to the work as a cross between The Breakfast Club and Dante. And the other half of the comparison, it also falls flat. Palahniuk cannot touch Dante, either in his description of hell, or in his pop-culture references. Dante’s work references historical figures that were relegated to hell, and Dante made better use of this device than Palahniuk. Palahniuk is getting more of a chuckle out of naming who is in hell, while also outlining transgressions that would land one in hell. The driving them of the book?  Something like: The mind is its own place and in itself can make a hell of haeven and a heaven of hell.  But I think somebody else has already said that, and that person had a much more elegant way of describing hell..  Notably absent from Palahniuk’s hell: Stalin and Mao. He makes room for Hitler, and a sequel (the work is to be continued), but leaves no room for his growth as a writer. Palahniuk has staled, with his cliched choruses and repitition, and this work belongs in hell’s sea of partial-birth abortions.

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Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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