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Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Damned (2011)

by Chuck Palahniuk

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I thought it was good, but it could have been better 8-)
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
I thought it was good, but it could have been better 8-)
  Vinbert | Nov 22, 2015 |
You have to love the crazy mind of Chuck Palahniuk. Always fun to read but saying that I have to admit Damned was a tad disappointing. Hoping the sequel to this is better. Still some mental images I will surely never forget. ( )
  Fearshop | Aug 20, 2015 |
Over the decades since the publication of Fight Club in 1996 Chuck Palahniuk has mastered the format of the short, self-contained novel, readable in a single longish plane flight. So now, it seems, he's embraced ambitions for multi-volume narrative. He's writing the Fight Club sequel (more to follow the film than the novel, and as a comic book series), and Damned is the first volume of a trilogy, for which only the second (Doomed) has yet followed.

The foregrounded cultural allusions in Damned's po-mo Inferno are to Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and to the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club. As is typical of Palahniuk's early novels, the plot turns on an anagorisis regarding the protagonist's personal history, although in this case, there have only been thirteen years of such history: Madison Spencer has kicked the bucket in the onset of puberty, and this book is the first volume of the saga of her afterlife.

Anecdotal review and rumor cautioned me that Palahniuk's Hell would be especially disgusting, with a surfeit of revolting details. That wouldn't be inconsistent with his other books, which have often deployed medical details for their gross-out potential. But Madison, who tells the story, is not a fount of clinical knowledge. As a zealous reader of Jane Austen and a self-identified "smart" girl, she does have a robust vocabulary, and in a Palahniuk-style refrain, she recurrently protests any reader's suspicions that it's excessive for her age. But even though Hell's geography contains many features made of accumulated bodily wastes, such concerns didn't seem to dominate the story. Maybe I'm just desensitized.

What did stand out was the bureaucracy of Hell, its candy-based economics, a bit of Cabell-esque metafiction, and Palahniuk's usual satirical disdain for consumer luxuries and celebrity culture. The book's ending is neither a full resolution nor a cliffhanger. Though Damned wasn't nearly my favorite of the author's novels so far (that would be Rant), I suppose I'll go ahead and snag Doomed at some point. Given how quickly these books read, though, prospective readers might be advised to wait for the third to see print, so they can be taken at a single go.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Aug 4, 2015 |
This book started out slow; like some kind of twist to Dante's version. Then things picked up and I was really getting into Madison's story and thinking I would totally love this book. Unfortunately, there is an anti-climactic twist and the ending fizzled out. ( )
1 vote jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
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Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison.
Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead.
No, it's not fair, but what makes earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven. Earth is earth. Dead is dead. You'll find out for yourself soon enough. It won't help the situation for you to get all upset.
Probably I woke up because someone was screaming in Hell, someone is always screaming. Anyone who's ever flown London to Sydney, seated next to or anywhere in the proximity of a fussy baby, you'll no doubt fall right into the swing of things in Hell. What with the strangers and crowding and seemingly endless hours of waiting for nothing to happen, for you Hell will feel like one long, nostalgic hit of deja vu. Especially if your in-flight movie was The English Patient. In Hell, whenever the demons announce they're going to treat everyone to a big-name Hollywood movie, don't get too excited because it's always The English Patient or, unfortunately, The Piano.
Another detail to remember about Hell ... whenever you ask why anyone is damned for all eternity, she'll tell you "jaywalking" or "carrying a black purse with brown shoes" or some such pretty nonsense. In Hell you'd be foolish to count on people displaying high standards of honesty. The same goes for earth.
Don't get me wrong. Hell isn't so dreadful, not compared to Ecology Camp, and especially not compared to junior high school. Call me jaded, but not much compares to having your legs waxed or getting your navel piercing done at a mall kiosk.
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As thirteen-year-old Madison tries to figure out how she died and ended up in Hell, she learns how to manipulate the corrupt system of demons and bodily fluids.

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