by Chuck Palahniuk

Disturbing. One of many words from the darker end of the spectrum that can be used to describe Palahniuk’s writing oeuvre. Much of it is the kind of fiction that you wouldn’t ordinarily recommend to your parents. Which is a pretty good recommendation in itself.

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Snuff sees porn legend Cassie Wright not just finish her career on a bang, but the ultimate bang – 600 men, on camera. If you want to be the best, better than all the rest – record breaker. Among the 600 thong – sorry, throng, who turn up to be a part of this event, are a few characters with a relationship of sorts with the star. All who turn up are given a number – much like you would for a queue at the meat counter of your local deli. When their number is called, they have to be ready to perform. Up and at ‘em, as it were.

The narrative evolves in the first person form, with each chapter devoted to point of view of the characters involved. These include a fading male porn star, a young man who believes him self to be Cassie’s child she put up for adoption, and a washed up TV star. Each has their own reason for being there, and as time passes by, in their wait for their moment in the slimelight with Ms Wright, we soon find some of their reasons overlap. As the book gets closer to its climax, it emerges that being a record breaker isn’t the main concern of everyone there.

As ever, it’s difficult to put down one of Palahniuk’s books once it finds its way into your grubby mitts. The idea of each chapter being voiced by one of the characters is a nice idea. That way, obviously, events that unfold can be told from different perspectives. And as usual for Mr P, there is no real hero to root for; it’s more a case of which anti-hero to side with.

The problem however, is that the pacing is all a little ploddy. He fleshes out character at the expense of story. And as deftly as Palahniuk is at setting up a story, it’s not enough to hold one’s attention solidly. If it weren’t for his thoroughly entertaining and engaging back catalogue of work, this wouldn’t have been the disappointment that it ultimately is. So Chuck really only has him self to blame. Far from his best then, but still a good read when compared to copycat clones of his depraved world.

three out of five