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December 16, 2008



I feel ill again just reading your post. I went to one of his readings in NYC and my friend started dry-heaving in the middle of Guts, and almost passed out. I think two other people actually did pass out. I had to simply just go to a happy place and completely block everything out.

What a bizarre phenomenon.


I've always wanted to pick up one of his books but everyone I ask seems to have different opinions on which ones are worthy and which are god awful...maybe this one isn't the right one to start out with!


@allidoisthis - American Psycho was more disturbing then Haunted, IMO. In Psycho, when I read the part dealing with the rat and the girl, I still have nightmares.

You fainted after reading it, that is great!

Drama queen :)


Go easy on yourself, Rich. Everyone who reads Palahniuk has a breaking point somewhere in at least ONE of his books.
Survivor--the Tender Branson statue through the eye. Yergh.

@Cheryl--Fight Club seems to be the easiest for a lot of people to get through emotionally (YMMV). Sort of. You MIGHT want to have someone around to make sure you're actually sleeping at night tho...


Yikes, that same thing happened to a little girl in Minnesota last summer, only she died. How many kids are disemboweled in pools every year?


I am very, very unimpressed with that kind of writing that sort of "betrays" the reader by just getting horrible suddenly (or starting horrible and never letting up, in this case, I suppose). I read a medical article recently that was about chronic pain and itching in the NYer recently that suddenly was telling a story about a women with chronic itching and all the sudden WHABAM she had scratched through to her brain. I dropped the magazine like it was a snake.

I have gotten "whimpier" as I've gotten older, but the way I look at it is that I'm more compassionate than I used to be, and I'd rather read or see something that relates more to normal experiences. There's a lot of suffering in the world, and I don't want to waste my energy on some made up stuff.


You realize, I'm among those who now have to read this book. I've only ever been disturbed by one author in the past and that would be Poppy Z. Brite. I read one of her novels because a friend gave it to me because she couldn't finish it (too gross) and asked me to read it for her and tell her what happened. It almost seemed like Poppy was simply trying to shock and gross out the reader, to perhaps test their mettle in regards to her prose. Seems Chuck is much the same. I find it interesting that merely reading something can make you feel dirty for doing so. I thought only craptacular Romance novels could do that. :o)


Haunted was the novel that got me hooked to Chuck! I have read all of his work now, fiction and non-fiction and Haunted is still amongst my favs. (Invisible Monters, Survivor, Choke, Rant and Fight Club are awesome too). There are some gruesome details and all but overall i liked the book. I am wondering what part grossed your sister out...was it the part where they fillets one of the characters asses for food? Or when one girls lips fall off from frostbite? There was some insanely weird stuff in that book...finding heaven on Venus leading to a mass execution on Earth, or women sexual assaulting a drag queen to see how real her new ladt parts are...i love Chuck.
I'm susprised that you found it so disturbing considering you can sit through Salo.


I've only read two Palahniuk books (Choke and Lullaby) which were not bad and/or disturbing, of what I can recall.

Has anyone one picked up any books by Dennis Cooper? I don't know how he would compare to Haunted, but his shit is fucked up. I read the 5 books from the George Miles cycle and was pretty freaked. Frisk, in particular, was very disturbing. I had to put it down several times. His writing style is great and was what probably got me through reading his books.

If anyone doesn't know, he's a gay lit author seeped in 90s nostalgia. I picked up some great music from those books.


I read this a year or so ago and like you, it was the first time that READING WORDS made me feel like I was going to throw up. I was so sick for the rest of the day after reading it and I still get queasy whenever I think about it...*shudder*

I don't think it means we're pussies, it just means that THAT SHIT IS DISGUSTING


Wow, I must be way more jaded than I thought I was. I just read the story while eating a corn muffin. I didn't even blink at all let alone get nauseous...

Should I be proud or sad?


Just read it, and yes it was gross, but I think I know why it didn't affect me as strongly as you - I've heard it before! That was John Edwards' big landmark case, he defended a little girl who sat on a drain and that happened. So I guess I got all my shock and awe at that happening when I heard that.

And I'm happy and surprised to see that my public library has this. I wonder if they have a warning pasted inside...


Oh my god, I knew what scene you were going to talk about as soon as I saw the cover posted on your blog and read your first paragraph. Fucking.Horrible. I even remember where I was when I read that part: on a plane to Paris, of all places. I had to put the book down and literally concentrate on not vomiting. I still think of it every so often (and this was like three years ago) and it makes me clench up with disgust. I stopped reading his books after that...also because that book really sucked otherwise.


It all depends on what really gets you (editorial you, anyone, really) skeeved out, because I could read guts all day and not be happy about it per se, just a mild nose curling reaction and a "that's disgusting" but give me any horror movie/book/discovery health special where someone is getting teeth knocked/yanked out, or worse, breaking teeth,(i almost barfed writing that) I want to faint.

I almost fainted when I asked my oral surgeon how they were going to take my wisdom teeth out and he began with, "well we need to break the teeth into quarters..."


the only thing gross about that book is palahniuk's inability to write. admittedly, i liked invisible monsters and would re-read it, but everything other of his novels seems like the same game of madlibs with different maladies.

Dan Paul

Fret not your pussiness, my friend. Embrace it. I shudder at the thought of a person who could endure such visceral narration and not physically react. You are officially not a serial killer or a sociopath. YAY!!


Rich, I fainted on a New York bound Amtrak reading "Guts" when the book was first released.

And I finished the book. So the bad news is, yes, you're weaker than a weak little girl.

But the good news is, you've spared yourself reading the rest of "Haunted". It SUCKS. It's like he blew his whole wad, both of shock value and of talent*, on that first story, and then wrote the rest of the sodding thing just to fulfil his contract.

*For that book, at least. "Rant" is awesome.


The only part of the story that really had an effect on me was: "but I've never weighed a pound more than I did that day when I was thirteen"
....if only.....


I guess I'm just super jaded, because the thing that bothered me the most about that book was the cover. I didn't realize that it glowed in the dark, and when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I saw that face looming up at me from the nightstand and seriously just about shit the bed.

Miss Lisa

I'm completely with your sister on this one. I had to put it down. I am officially queasy just thinking about the time I tried to read this book. Portland, represent.


i loved his book Survivor. i'm really not interested in his other books, i'm not a gross-out fan. and anyways, didn't de Sade and Bataille already accomplish that? (Story of the Eye was the grossest book i have ever read, didn't faint or barf tho.)


The Haunted was a very bad book. Guts was just the tip of the iceberg. I read the whole thing, couldn't put it down, but I have no real memory of it, just scary flashbacks.


I guess I'm pretty messed up because I actually laughed at a few parts of "Guts" (reading the link that was provided in the comments). But in American Psycho I can't stand to watch when he goes to kill/almost kill the kitten. I totally freak. And I'm not some crazy PETA/ALF person either. Who knows?


I love Palahnuik.


Chuck is my favorite author; however, I haven't enjoyed any of his last few books. He was his best with "Invisible Monsters", "Choke" and "Lullaby". It's too bad because he's clearly going for the shock factor when it's not necessary to shock that far.

I heard him read Guts during his "Stranger Than Fiction" book tour and no one passed out, though there were a lot of pale faces. That story didn't get to me as badly as the story where the girl ate a piece of her own ass. I nearly fainted on the El when I read that story...ugh.

I don't know if you've read his other books, but definitely read his first few. Skip "Snuff" all together. Here's hoping "Pygmy" is better...

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