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Check It Out: The first rule of Chuck Palahniuk is...

August 01, 2013|By Allen Kesinger

Chuck Palahniuk's "Doomed" will be released in October and continue the story of Madison Spencer, a 13-year-old girl who died and found herself in Hell. Madison is one of many unique characters who comprise Palahniuk's novels, many of which are dark, harsh and surreal critiques of modern society. Be it Palahniuk's controversial "Fight Club" or "Snuff," it's the marginalized characters who give each novel a strong and unforgettable voice. This week's article presents a selection of novels by Palahniuk that are defined by the uniqueness of their protagonists.

In "Damned," Madison is an average girl who lived an average life in the shadow of her celebrity, eco-friendly parents until she died at 13. The novel explores Madison's adaptation of spending eternity in Hell, where she makes friends with other damned souls, explores the twisted landscape and takes a job as a telemarketer. While encountering demons and reorganizing Hell's managerial structure, Madison spends her quiet moments reflecting on her life (and death) on Earth.

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In Palahniuk's "Survivor," Tender Branson is a member of the Creedish Church death cult. Under the watchful eye of a caseworker from the Federal Survivor Retention Program, Tender lives a quiet life as a housekeeper for a couple he never meets and, due to a newspaper misprint and irony, is a voice for a suicide prevention hotline. When news spends that Tender is the second-to-last survivor of the church, he becomes an idol in the grotesque world of popular celebrity culture.

The title character of "Pygmy" is a adolescent teen from an unnamed totalitarian country who has arrived in the United States, along with several child soldiers, in order to covertly launch a devastating terrorist attack. Pygmy is thrust into a world wildly different than the one he grew up in, the rigid, violent and militaristic lifestyle replaced by a not-so-funhouse mirror image of American culture. "Pygmy" is an especially difficult read, not just for its content, but because the entire book is written as a journal by an author whose vocabulary is a mash-up of broken English and Orwellian doublespeak.

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