Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pygmy - A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

When I was an angst-ridden youth, I enjoyed the collected works of author Chuck Palahniuk. He was dark, subversive, and edgy. I read everything he ever wrote up through Diary.  Fight Club, the movie, came out when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I lived and breathed his dark, broken little world.

Then I discovered Kurt Vonnegut. I realized that his works were superior, even occasionally uplifting, and never went back to the author I then dubbed "Poor man's Vonnegut"

I went to my local library in the vain attempt to acquire interesting graphic novels or audio books, since I have plenty of unread novels at home. That last sentence sounds bad when I read it. I have a greater amount of read novels. I just have a backlog of purchased/borrowed books to get through before I delve into new books.

The audio books are my new endeavor to keep my sanity on my commute. I should have started them a year ago, when my commute first began, but I did not. I couldn't find anything from a trusted author, other than books partway into series' I hadn't yet begun. Then I noticed a couple books by Mr. Palahniuk.

This will have to do.

My initial reaction to the prose being read out loud for an hour was: "Sweet merciful crap, what the frak is this?"

“Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67 on arrival Midwestern American airport greater 'REDACTED' area. Flight 'REDACTED'. Date 'REDACTED'. Priority mission top success to complete. Code name: Operation Havoc.”

The entire book is read this way. All from the perspective of "Operative me" all in broken English. It may break the typical way he writes, but it's still filled with Palahniuk's normal themes. Abuse, rape, murder, sexual deviance, anti-religion, and so on.

The only reason I kept on going was that I had no other audio book as a fall back, and no time for another trip to my library.

In all, the whole story is completely unbelievable. The characters are all hollow stereotypes and nothing of lasting significance transpires. The best parts are the flashbacks to Operative me's early childhood training, and the book could have used more of that and less scenes in the community church.

I wouldn't recommend this in written form. I imagine it would be very tiring to convert the written broken English into concepts. At least with hearing it spoken to you, half the work is already done.

I must praise the reader, Paul Michael Garcia, for doing an excellent job with such challenging writing. His reading helped to keep me engaged.

If it's playing in your car and you have a long commute, don't stab your ears, just listen and pass the time.

If you have access to other audio books, perhaps you should try them first.

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