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Monday, 1 June 2009

Pygmy by: Chuck Palahniuk

Pygmy
Chuck Palahniuk

Doubleday

ISBN 9780385666299


A few years back I would have told you Palahniuk was one of my favorite authors. His work is cutting edge, unique, and always shocking. Each of his works is unique, from other authors and from his own works. Palahniuk has an incredibly imaginative and creative mind. The closest authors to him are: in Canada Douglas Coupland and in the UK Irvine Welsh. But the problem with always shocking and being so unique is each new work must outdo the previous. As such I think I have lost my taste for Palahniuk's writings.

The book is unique, different and well-written. It is the story of Pygmy, one of a group of youths from a totalitarian state that has been sent to the United States, to live with Christian families and experience a better life. At least that is what the Host Families and church believe. Yet in reality these youths have been raised from a young age as agents of the state, part of a planned terrorist attack on the States.

Palahniuk does a great job of dissecting Midwestern life through foreign eyes. It is a satire both of America's fears and of America itself. However the story is just too much - male rape, high school massacre, planned seductions, pregnancies and impregnations. And the whole book is written as a series of dispatches from Pygmy to his home government, written in a halting, misunderstood English. Palahniuk captures a feel about the language, yet still conveys his message.

Palahniuk's books are usually a pleasure to read and so addictive that I cannot put them down. Some I have read more than once, even back to back - finished it and started reading it again. That was not the case this time. Twice I put it down for a few days, and was uncertain I would pick it up again to finish it. This was the first Palahniuk book I have read that I easily predicted the ending; that, in and of itself, was a disappointment. As a book it is okay, but as a Palahniuk book it is disappointing on many levels. For the hardcore Palahniuk fans out there - they will love it. I think I have just lost my taste for his extremism.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29.)

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