Tag Archives: Chuck Palahniuk

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

So hell, what’s it really like? And what’s it like to be dead?

Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel Damned is an updated vision of hell where you can bribe demons with candy bars and take a career in telemarketing or internet porn.  You can also get eaten by demons from every culture that has ever existed on earth, apart from Scientology.

Madison Spencer is a slightly overweight thirteen-year-old girl who finds herself consigned to hell after smoking too much pot. The daughter of a film star and a billionaire, Madison is the reader’s insightful companion on a journey through the underworld, and it’s advisable to take note of everything she says because Madison is one smart kid.

Brought up alongside adopted orphans from the third world and educated at the best Swiss boarding school, Madison epitomises the ‘kidult ‘ – the child who is perceived by some to have grown up too fast. Damned has references throughout to child stars and ‘kidults’ such as Lolita, Pollyanna, Shirley Temple and JonBenet Ramsey. But despite being the construct of insane celebrity status and insane amounts of money, Madison loves her parents dearly and she’s always worrying that she’s let them down because she’s a little bit fat. Continue reading


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The Guardian Book Awards 2010

A couple of weeks ago The Poplar Tree attended a meeting at the Deansgate branch of Waterstones to find out more about becoming a judge on the Guardian Book Awards panel. The newspaper asked for members of the public to volunteer as judges and pick out the best new author from a shortlist of 10 books. Around sixty people turned up to the Deansgate branch, which had seven judging places up for grabs. To qualify you had to submit an entry form which included a short review (200 words) of a novel published within the past 12 months. Unfortunately The Poplar Tree wasn’t successful. For anyone who likes Chuck Palahniuk’s work, here is the short review I submitted:

Pygmy is a thirteen-year-old Communist agent hailing from an unknown territory somewhere in Eastern Asia. His homeland is seeking vengeance on America for alleged acts of terrorism, and he is sent on a state mission, while masquerading as a foreign exchange student, to implement ‘Operation Havoc’.

Pygmy doesn’t have the meteoric twist of Palahniuk’s other works such as Fight Club, or the back-to-front ending of Survivor, instead the culmination of Operation Havoc is played out over 20 or so pages of increasingly loose pidgin English. As Palahnuik struggles to collect the strands of his novel together, many unanswered questions remain and,  although this may be typical of Palahnuik’s style, in this instance, the effect sadly distances rather than intrigues the reader. Continue reading

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