Wednesday, November 08, 2006

BCOO: Survivor

Nope, not the TV show. Though this book by Chuck Palahniuk did satirize this nation's (most industrialized nations') ridiculous propensity for glamorizing and idolizing random people.

The book was fun, rough, gritty, ridiculous, and interesting. I laughed and cringed my through it. I had a great time and can't wait to read more Palahniuk stuff (he lives in Portland, incidentally).

There is too much there to describe, and it doesn't do the plot justice. Basically, a boy 'bred' in a death cult tries to survive in the world, until he ends up the last survivor (or so he thinks). Surrounding him is a lot of despair, suicide, and murder. He moves from a member of the cult, to an undocumented house cleaner whose earnings are kept by the cult, to a house cleaner who gets to keep his earnings (after everyone in the cult kills themselves), to an accused murderer, to a religious idol, and then back to an accused murderer.

The book is structured backwards, though in number and premise only. Tender tells the story to a black box, alone on a plane that he's riding till it runs out gas and crashes. In that sense, and in the sense that we begin the book on chapter 47, page 289, the book is backwards. I'm not sure, but it feels a little gimmicky. I think it's the only think I didn't completely love about the book.

And now for my favorite part: quotes. Keep in mind that Palahniuk is sardonic and irreverent. I love it.

(Tender's brother telling him about 'the outside world' just before he leaves the cult compound): People used what they called a telephone because they hated being close together and they were too scared of being alone.

The girl last night, the only other remaining survivor of the Creedish church district, she ate dirt. There's even a name for it. They call it geophagy. This was popular among the Africans brought to America as slaves. Popular probably isn't the right word.

The same way every generation reinvents Christ, the agent's giving me the same makeover. The agent says nobody is going to worship anybody with my roll of flab around his middle. These days, people aren't going to fill stadiums to get preached at by somebody who isn't beautiful.

According to the journalist watching the director watch the agent watch me watch the TelePrompTer, according to her I'm very happy and fulfilled now that I'm free of the Creedish Death Cult.

So there's a little taste. It's really wonderful, and definitely worth a read.
Next, it's another John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany. I've just started it, but as of now, it feels like a dessert of whipped cream right after a really juicy steak. Of course, the steak had some gristle, but that's what made it so much better. It all feels a little watered down, in other words. I miss the bite and nagging pinch of Palahniuk. I realize it's completely unfair to compare them, but there it is. I've done it. I'm unfair.

What's even more unfortunate for my comparison - Irving's novel involves a religious figure. But I'm sure I'll get into it. I hope so, at least.
IN OTHER NEWS: Yay for all you voters out there. Liberals - things are looking up! And Rumsfeld is leaving! Wooh!

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