“To save us all,
please, tell someone.
To create real peace on earth.
Let us all be-
Haunted is another weirdly twisted novel by nihilist author Chuck Palahniuk. Due to its graphic content I suggest that the morally sensitive and the easily nauseated go read something else.
Nineteen desperate people each with their secrets attempt to escape their past by signing up for a writer’s retreat. They use pseudonyms such as, “Lady Bag-Lady,” Sister Vigilante” and my personal favorite, “Saint Gut-Free”. Each nick-name will eventually fall into place with the stories they tell.
Unfortunately for them, this particular retreat is held not on a compound with private cabins, rolling hills, and a gentle lake, but in an abandoned theater, which doors get locked as soon as they get inside. It turns out that the “director” of this retreat is boy suffering from progeria, who is using this particular set of people for an experiment. His point is that everyone needs someone to blame. And so starring Mr. Whittier as “Mr. Devil Hisself” and they do a pretty good job at proving his point.
In an attempt to get out of their prison they resort to damaging the electricity and plumbing and destroying three months worth of food. Eventually they resort to self-mutilation, but to no avail. Their captor is bound and determined to have them tell their stories. Eventually one by one their stories each accompanied by a poem. None of them are pleasant or worth mentioning, and most of the observations seems to be between the stories with Mr. Whittier, forever talking about humanities dependency on victimization.
This probably isn’t one of my favorite Chuck Palahniuk, in fact reading this book is like staring at something horrible and perverse but not being able too look away. Sometimes I wonder if Palahniuk is King Lear’s fool who knows that mockery is no longer a venue for hiding truth, so he moved onto to shock value. Or maybe Palahniuk really is just some sick bastard who doesn’t really seem to put any redeemable qualities in his characters, that aren‘t hidden under steaming piles of dysfunction.