Thursday, February 09, 2012
Review: "Damned" by Chuck Palahniuk
Along the way, we’re treated to plenty of gross-out scenery, a few laugh out loud moments, and, of course, Maddy’s coming of age and discovery of herself just a bit too late.
When I started “Damned,” I thought it was fun and inventive. It seemed the kind of book tailor-made to irritate and downright piss off a lot of people while entertaining others. I can appreciate that. One of my favorite humor novels ever is Christopher Moore’s “Lamb.” Unlike with “Lamb,” the further I went into “Damned,” the novelty wore off a little bit. There were several scenes in the book – one in particular – that were written for pure shock value. That’s a tough sell for me, because it’s very difficult to offend me and even harder to shock me. The scenes didn’t really add anything to the story, and I doubt that, given the concept of the book, anyone who was going to be deeply offended by them got far enough in to read them. You can pretty well decide just by the description of the book whether it’s for you or not, and it seems kind of pointless.
The book reads essentially like Maddy’s diary, as she remembers things from her life and learns things about herself – with little notes to Satan, who she can’t seem to find, tucked in at the beginning of every chapter. The intent is to make “Damned” a warped version of Judy Blume, who gets her share of props from Maddy throughout – sort of. It works sometimes, but sometimes Maddy crosses over into slightly annoying territory.
The culture that Palahniuk creates for Hell is interesting, with candy being its primary currency and the place being the root of all telemarketing. The myriad ways that you can damn yourself are also entertaining – urinating in a swimming pool more than five times, for example, or uttering more than your allotment of 700 uses of the f-word in your lifetime. One hundred percent of journalists, by the way, end up in Hell, which gave me a chuckle.
In the end, I guess “Damned” is about as fun as being condemned to Hell can be, but I had higher expectations for it.