“Haunted” varies from other Chuck Palahniuk novels because it’s a series of 23 short stories that are tied into one larger story, rather than one unbroken story. However, it shares the same feature as Palahniuk’s other novels. Once one is finished reading it, he/she experiences a weird desire to take a boiling hot shower to rinse off the filth and shame gained from reading “Haunted.”
Unfortunately, “Haunted” is so perversely twisted that it may be literally impossible to rid oneself completely of the indignity that the novel brings, and one must continue to live their life knowing that he/she is just as perversely heinous as all other Palahniuk fans.
The surrounding story of “Haunted” is of 19 individuals who sign up for a writers retreat and are then, unknowingly, locked underground with limited food and resources by their host. They are charged with writing a great manuscript in three months before they are released.
After a moderate amount of protest, the group decides to lean into the experience under the idea that, after they are found, they can sell their story for millions.
So, like any rational group of would-be writers, they willingly resort to such activities as murder, cannibalism and self-mutilation, essentially anything to make their story even more traumatic, and therefore, sellable.
Each of the individuals takes time out of their busy schedules of making baby-soup to share their story.
One of the first stories, entitled “Guts” is probably the most well-known story from the novel, as it had been published previously in “Playboy.” The story is of a young man masturbating himself nearly to death and having his insides all but sucked out. According to Palahniuk, it is based on a true story he heard during a sex addicts anonymous meeting.
As a reader, you would think that the stories from thereon out could not get any more terrifying, or dare I say, haunting, but you would be wrong in your assumption. So ridiculously wrong.
The stories of “Haunted” are more than just gore and sex, but several, such as “Obsolete,” hits the reader psychologically and makes them look at their life and their choices, and perhaps, even send them spiraling into an existential crisis.
Palahniuk has an extraordinary ability to reach into a reader’s soul until he finds the darkest and most voyeuristic part of it before tenderly treating it to his work, which exposes full spectrum of human travesties.
Reading Palahniuk’s many works may send you to Hell, but at least you’ll know what kind of shoes to wear.
Paige Jurgensen/Staff writer