Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

My Photo
Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chuck Pahlaniuk's Guts

"For example, on a recent tour, Palahniuk read from a story called "Guts," about a boy who becomes ensnared in a swimming-pool pump while trying to masturbate."

Over at POD-DY MOUTH, Girl quotes from Chuck Pahlaniuk's web site, "Believe it or not, Chuck had to go through hell and back to land an agent."

Really? He landed one, didn't he? And a pretty good agent he must be, too. I'm amused how writers who've gone through the usual amount of toil-unless you have a Cinderalls story, which conforms to another pr template people love-act like they just made it off Omaha Beach. I haven't read Fight Club, and probably won't, as I'll explain in a moment. Maybe the reason that Palahniuk had so many rejections is because his writing is, well, shit.

There's a story about Palahniuk's latest book and the author hisself over at Slate. It references a short story by Palahniuk (“Guts”) that appeared in Playboy magazine, about a teenage boy who gets his lower intestines pulled out by the suction of the pool's drain while masturbating in his family's swimming pool. Never having read any Palahniuk, and curious because of his reputation, I read the story.

I found it to be a ludicrous, juvenile, vulgar piece of crap and an insult to the reader. If it's representative of Palahniuk's literary output, then it sure provides an example of a very successfull writer whose work belongs with PublishAmerica, where no one would ever have to suffer through reading it.

The Slate article describes his antics at his book signings. Let's say that they make those of James Ellroy, not known for his modesty or restraint, look like an Oxford professor's by comparison.

In a comment to me, Greg Blecha wrote, "I find his topics to be quite unsettling, but his literary style is rather sophisticated and elegant. If you haven't read Fight Club, I highly recommend it, especially before you form an opinion of his writing.

You could also make the same characterizations of Dostoyevsky, Kafka or Nabakov. Their subject matter may be repugnant, but their literary style is non pareil."

My objection to the story has nothing to do with the sexuality or the gore. The premise and actions, as described, are ludicrous. I live in a home with a swimming pool, and even if I didn't, I know enough about mechanics and anatomy to know that what happens in the story is physically impossible.

As for Palahniuk's literary style, the story didn't have any style worth noting.

Now, am I being unfair to Mr. Palahniuk by judging his entire literary ouevre from one story? Perhaps, but then, if this is a bottom-drawer effort that he's been able to sell now because he's a hot name, he has to take the responsibility for publishing it. He put his name on it, so it is representative whether he likes it or not. Conversely, if this isn't a weak story, and he actually is proud of it, then I can assume it fairly represents his writing.

At my age, with my disabilities, I'm very selective of what I'll spend my time on. I wish I had the less discriminating appetites of youth and the energy I once had. And, frankly, I really don't care whether I'm being fair to Palahniuk. Maybe I'm depriving myself of some great work, but then again, there are lots of established classics I have no inclination to read and never will. It doesn't bother me. Reading is an entertainment, not a cure for disease or a provider of moral uplift. The only way for any reader not to miss what might be a great book is to read far more than any one person has the leisure time to. Every choice made often precludes another. So be it.

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]