04 December 2009

Survivor, by Chuck Pahlaniuk

This book by the author of Fight Club has a very similar tone to its better-known cousin. I suppose that's what they call "voice."

Tender Branson begins this book by explaining that he's hijacked an airplane, let all the passengers and crew go, and is now heading for a crash in the Australian Outback. This is the ending, right at the beginning of the book. The pages are numbered backwards. Yep. The last page is page 1.

But I can forgive all this cleverness. I read every word, and thoroughly enjoyed this book, the story of an innocent, raised in a strange religious cult and released to the outside world to work as a type of slave for the enrichment of the Creedish elders. (I think that's a clever name for a cult.)

The details of the cult's beliefs and organization come out in the story, but this begins to be overshadowed by a high-powered sendup of the "real" world's fixation with celebrity, hyped by and pumped out through the "media." When Tender Branson becomes famous as the last (save one, actually, as we discover) surviving member of the Creedish, who have committed mass suicide (or are being serially murdered), he suddenly acquires an agent, becomes famous, and begins changing into a super-celebrity, preaching and praying to multitudes, and rapidly turning into something completely manufactured and unreal.

Since we already know the ending, we are entertained by the suspense of knowing that all of this must fail, and watch carefully to see how it is done.

I look forward to reading some more of Mr. Palahniuk's work.

The Cult, the official Chuck Palahniuk website.

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