Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Tell-All" by Chuck Palahniuk

One of the girls in my book club is a Palahniuk Evangelist. She sent me home with a loaner last Friday night, which I was really excited about since I thought Palahniuk's Fight Club was pretty great when I read it just last month.

Well, my second foray into Palahniuk-land was not a win. After Fight Club, I expected mind-bending, dark and edgy. I got a predictable, gimmicky cliché. The best part about this book was the cover. Even that should have sent up a warning flare. It's so . . . colorful.

The book is written in the style of a Hollywood tell-all (hence the title) from the point of view of an aging movie star's personal assistant. There's a very annoying device of name-dropping throughout the entire book, with every famous person or expensive brand picked out in boldface type (to make sure the reader notices each one, I suppose). That got old fast. Actually it never wasn't old.

Judging by Fight Club, along with a vague memory of someone mentioning it, Palahniuk is known for his plot twists. Well, this one fell flat. The truth was clear to me, though I can't remember exactly why, when Hazie tossed Terry the "blueprint for Miss Kathie's most recent brush with death." Which was exactly 55 pages before it should have dawned on me.

Fight Club drops hints so subtle that you never realize they're hints until you get to the end and look back. Tell-All bashes you over the head with obvious insinuations in just the loud and insufferable way you'd think something with such a loud and insufferable cover would do. (By the way, you can't tell it in the photo here, but the cover actually sparkles.)

I didn't mean to read this book all in one day, but that's what I did. It was kind of like the way you might sit down with a bag of Oreos and find they're gone before you know it. Afterwards you're left thinking, I sure had better things to do. But at least it wasn't boring. There are lots of ways a book can be bad, but "boring" is the worst of them.

I want to give Palahniuk another chance, since I thought Fight Club was so clever, but I've already got my fingers crossed that the next time I read Palahniuk it will be much more Fight Club than Tell-All.


Ben said...

I'm a firm believe in the fact that you can't produce good novels on a daily basis. It's been a while since I've came across a passionating Palahniuk novel. I will avoid Tell-All, but I might be tempted by Damned, his new book, about an eleven years old girl caught in hell.

Brenna said...

The only Palahniuk I've read is Dairy and I was blown away. It's dark and twisted but doesn't bash you over the head with the obvious. Maybe that one would suit you better.

Kathy said...

Ben--I totally agree--I'm kind of wary of an author who produces books too frequently. And, passionating? You must speak French! :)

Brenna--thanks for the suggestion! That may be the next Palahniuk I pick up. I want to be blown away!