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Chuck Palahniuk

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I’ve been in a reading mood lately. I don’t know what it is but I can’t get enough of it. Friday night I bought two books, A Good and Happy Child and The Husband.

A Good and Happy Child was a pretty good book by first time novelist Justin Evans. It’s a book that explores demons, both literal and figurative. The book seemed pretty good at the store and the reviews made it sound excellent. I have to admit, it was a pretty decent book. I enjoyed the way it was told, in the present and through journal entries about what the main character remembered from childhood. I was a bit disappointed in the scare factor. Some of the reviews were equating it to a modern Exorcist, but it wasn’t anywhere near as creepy as said novel. It was still a decent and quick read. I was able to finish it in a day.

The other book was Dean Koontz’s The Husband. This was on the bargain shelf, and I am a Koontz fan, so I picked it up. I really like the direction Koontz has gone over the past few years. He’s done less supernatural-type novels and done more thrillers. This was a great thriller that kept me turning the pages wanting to know what was to happen next. The only disappointing thing in the book was how quickly everything was resolved. Usually Koontz is fast at conflict resolutions, but this one seemed too easy. Too fast.

Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble because Chuck Palahniuk came out with a new book called Snuff. I also noticed that Koontz came out with a fourth book in his Odd Thomas series called Odd Hours. I’m almost finished with Snuff, which is classic Palahniuk, and can’t wait to start Odd Hours. I’ve basically been reading a book a day for the past five days. I can’t get enough.

Sometimes when reading a book I think how great a movie it could be. Of course, with some books, others see the same potential and make a horrible movie out of it (Michael Crichton’s Timeline is a superb example of a great book and horrible movie). Now, I’m usually drawn to a specific style of writing and I think it would be hard for these books to be made into movies. I don’t think there is much money in making movies off some of these unless they are handled with care and done right.

Neanderthal by John Darnton- This is a great book about archaeologists who stumble upon a community of Neanderthals living in Tadjikistan, high in the mountains, cut off from the rest of the world. Think Indiana Jones type story, but without the Nazis. Rumor has it the rights to this book have been sold to Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks, but I doubt we’ll see this as a movie anytime soon.

Survivor-Chuck Palahniuk- Great book. Starting from chapter 47 and working it’s way backwards, it tells the story of Tender Branson. Branson aged 33, has commandeered a Boeing 747, emptied of passengers, in order to tell his story to the “black box” while flying randomly until the plane runs out of gas and crashes. Again, movie rights have been bought for this book, but it seems unlikely to be made since it is very dark and movies about plane crashes post-9/11 are not likely to garner much in the way of box office success.

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey– Chuck Palahniuk- This would never make it as a movie, and probably shouldn’t, but it would be an interesting one to see. Think the book and movie Breakfast of Champions. Great book. Really messed up movie that was…. just weird. This book was told in a unique way. The entire story was told by people who knew Buster Casey. The entire book is in interview format and sometimes the stories even contradict each other. If this was made into a movie it would either be the best movie ever made or the worst. There is no in-between.

Velocity-Dean Koontz- None of Dean Koontz’s books have worked as movies. Anyone remember Phantoms? They just suck. Mostly because most of Koontz’s works deal with the supernatural or aliens. Lately his books have been more suspense thriller. Velocity is one of those. If you recieved a note saying you had to choose who would live and who would die, what would you do? Billy Wiles’s life spirals out of control after he finds a note on his windshield telling him that he has a choice: involve the police, and a lovely blonde schoolteacher dies. Do nothing, and an elderly woman active in charity work dies. The following events are a cat and mouse chase to stop the killer before he kills again. This could be an excellent movie that would keep you at the edge of your seat (much as the book did) the entire time.

I’m sure there are more books I’d like to see turned into movies, but so far that’s all I can think of. I think if these were made, and made with care, they could be really great and do quite well at the box office.

book icon I just read Chuck Palahniuk’s new book Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey. I am a huge fan of Palahniuk’s cynical stories. Reminding me of Vonnegut, Palahniuk spins deep stories about how fucked up the world is and how poor society has become. My favorite book of his, Fight Club is the perfect example of this type of storytelling. In his latest book, Palahniuk does something I’ve never seen done, by him or any other author. The way he tells the story is so unique. The novel is about Buster Casey, but it doesn’t follow like a traditional novel. It is not a story told by the main character, or even one person who knew the main character. Instead it is told by several people who knew the main character. It reads like a series of interviews with various people, almost like several witnesses telling the story of an accident that has happened, telling what they know in each scene until you reach the conclusion. The story was good, but what made the book was the way it was told. It couldn’t have been told any other way. Palahniuk’s outlook on the world still shows through via quotes the “witnesses” give about their friend Buster Casey, whether it be about his general character or actual things he said (“The future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday.”) These people, like the men in Fight Club are constantly looking for more in life, death, relationships, and challenging the status quo. These themes are seen all throughout his books. In case you are interested, here is a synopsis from amazon.com:

Buster Casey, destined to live fast, die young and murder as many people as he can, is the rotten seed at the core of Palahniuk’s comically nasty eighth novel (after Haunted; Lullaby; Diary; etc.). Set in a future where urbanites are segregated by strict curfews into Daytimers and Nighttimers, the narrative unfolds as an oral history comprising contradictory accounts from people who knew Buster. These include childhood friends horrified by the boy’s macabre behavior (getting snakes, scorpions and spiders to bite him and induce instant erections; repeatedly infecting himself with rabies), policemen and doctors who had dealings with the rabies “superspreader”; and Party Crashers, thrill-seeking Nighttimers who turn city streets into demolition derby arenas. After liberally infecting his hometown peers with rabies, Buster hits the big city and takes up with the Party Crashers. A series of deaths lead to a police investigation of Buster (long-since known as “Rant”—the sound children make while vomiting) that peaks just as Buster apparently commits suicide in a blaze of car-crash glory. This dark religious parable (there’s even a resurrection) from the master of grotesque excess may not attract new readers, but it will delight old ones.