Adventures in Reading

Fiction: Chuck Palahniuk’s Snuff, 2008
November 1, 2008, 1:57 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: , , , , , ,

“One dude stood all afternoon at the buffet wearing just his boxers, licking the orange dust off barbecued potato chips. Next to him, a dude was scooping into the onion dip and licking the dip off the chip. The same soggy chip, scoop after scoop. Dudes have a million ways of peeing on what they claim as just their own.”

Terrible, terrible, terrible cover. As a reader I was immediately repulsed by the hideousness of the cover and I must thank the library for removing the jackets of hardback books or I’m sure I would never have given this book a chance. (Even looking at the image to the left has my eye twitching! Seriously, who gave the okay on this?)

The term “snuff” is usually used as a reference to violent pornography that depicts the death or murder of the subject, and porn being porn this subject is often a woman. In Chuck Palahniuk’s most recent novel Snuff , an aging porn star is attempting to break the world record by having sex with 600 men and resulting from a variety of concerns trepidation unfolds through most of the novel that this set could easily become a snuff film. Told through the voices of four characters, three men labeled as their numbers and the organizational guru Sheila, Snuff unfolds in the waiting room of the porn shoot.

I really didn’t think I’d be able to stomach this book at all because of political reasons, but I managed to work my way through and even finish the novel. And what is most curious is that with such a premise as Palahniuk establishes nothing much happens and the conclusion is just terrible. Now as I’ve said that I’d still like to chime in and say that Palahniuk seems (and is certainly accredited) to be a smart writer, but with Snuff the only reason I continued to read was because the random assortment of sex history and trivia ranging from famous pornographers to Hollywood actors of the silent and silver screen was kind of interesting.

Palahniuk briefly dabbles in the complexity of pornography, but it’s just… not very good. I did finish the novel and it was a quick (and thin) read, but Snuff is definitely a shabby read from who is usually described as a promising author.

Conclusion: Returned to the library.



Think I’ll definitely pass on this one. The only book I’ve read by Palahniuk is Choke and I was a little turned off (and I’ve got a pretty tough stomach). I loved the movie Fight Club, but I just don’t know if I want to go there with another one of his books. I think you’re right about him seeming to be a smart writer–I think he just pushes it a little too far…

Comment by Trish

My husband loves Palaniuk, but I really only liked Fight Club. I read Choke and thought it was half-assed, and haven’t heard anything good about Snuff. Really doesn’t make me want to pursue his other works.

Comment by raych

Chuck Palahniuk is terrible. I think he’s the worst writer working today. I read “Haunted” and thought it was one of the stupidest books I’ve ever read. I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy this guy.

Comment by Brandon

Snuff was the one book by Palahniuk that I really disliked. For a better taste of his work I would go with Invisible Monsters or Lullaby. His non-fiction books are also very good. I think Palahniuk is a terrific writer, but his work seems to be about pushing people to the limit while burying important messages deep within the bizarre.

Comment by Joanne

Trish: I’ve read this and I tried to read Stranger Than Fiction (which I hated) and I’m just not seeing the big deal behind him. He’s a smart and snappy writer, but something isn’t good just because it’s controversial/flashy.

raych: I’m definitely taking a break – maybe I’ll give him another try next year.

Brandon: I love your honesty! I know some people that swear by him, but I definitely haven’t discovered anything to prove this yet.

Joanne: Thank you for the suggestions and I will keep them in mind for the next time I try Palahniuk’s writing. I think your final statement is very true about:

“…his work seems to be about pushing people to the limit while burying important messages deep within the bizarre.”

While I can totally get behind this, I wonder if Palahniuk is a little too obvious with this? At least it was with Snuff, but I’ll give this author another try in the future.

Comment by bookchronicle

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