(I swear, does it say “author of Fight Club” on every single one of his novels??)
Well, just finished the newest installation from the wickedly depraved mind of Chuck Palahnuik. And while not his best, it certainly is not his worst (Cough, Diary, Cough). Damned presents a delightful blend of homages to both popular literature (Judy Blume, etc.) and culture (Breakfast club, etc.) as well as classic literature (Paradise Lost, Charlotte Bronte, etc.). Mixed masterfully, all these elements begin to mingle in hell, mirroring the timelessness of hell itself.
The novel follows Thirteen year old Madison Spencer, daughter to infamous billionaire parents, who “overdoses on marijuana”* and end up in hell (*The real cause of her death is part of the mystery of the novel). Damned soon becomes a novel for looking back and understanding ones life, a meditation on the trails of being a teenager, as well as a vessel for reinventing oneself.
Without giving too much away from the plot, what follows is the notable mentions of can’t-pry-your-eyes-away-from-the-page moments:
- Madison and her comrades watch as an old roman man plunges into the sea of insects only to be horribly eaten alive.
- The various geographic locations of hell: The seas of insects, the sea of wasted sperm, the swamp of aborted fetuses, the desert of fingernail clippings, the hills of broken glass, etc.
- Psezpolnica a giant towering demon receives cunnilingus from a severed head.
- Charles Darwin flips the bird.
- A description of a strange “kissing game” Madison learned at an all girls boarding school involving choking and the “kiss of life”.
- Madison beat’s the crap out of Hitler and forcibly rips off hissignature ‘stash, which she then carries around with her on her belt… along with other “souveniors” she hijacks from notable monsters throughout history.
In short, the novel is frightfully entertaining, if not for the various references, characters and homages, but for the plethora of reasons one may enter hell… it seems as if everyone is doomed from the very start, if not for honking your car horn one too many times.
And most frightening of all? In the novel, it turns out all the creationist bible thumpers were right.