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“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued thirteen-year-old narrator of Damned, Chuck Palahniuk’s subversive new work of fiction. The daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire, Madison is abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, while her parents are off touting their new projects and adopting more orphans. She dies over the holiday of a marijuana overdose—and the next thing she knows, she’s in Hell. Madison shares her cell with a motley crew of young sinners that is almost too good to be true: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by fate to form the six-feet-under version of everyone’s favorite detention movie. Madison and her pals trek across the Dandruff Desert and climb the treacherous Mountain of Toenail Clippings to confront Satan in his citadel. All the popcorn balls and wax lips that serve as the currency of Hell won’t buy them off.
This is the afterlife as only Chuck Palahniuk could imagine it: a twisted inferno where The English Patient plays on endless repeat, roaming demons devour sinners limb by limb, and the damned interrupt your dinner from their sweltering call center to hard-sell you Hell. He makes eternal torment, well, simply divine.
About Chuck Palahniuk
CHUCK PALAHNIUK’s eleven best-selling novels—Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Lullaby, Fight Club, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke—have sold more than five million copies in the United States. He is also the author of Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.
‘The Breakfast Club’ Meets Hell In ‘Damned’
NPR Book Review – October 17, 2011 (Excerpt)
Meet Maddy Spencer — or, to be exact, Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer — a ridiculous name she takes great pains to hide. She’s 13, brainy, a little dumpy and very, very dead.
Maddy is the heroine of Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk’s new novel, Damned. It’s a sort of coming-of-age tale, except that none of the characters can actually age. They’re all dead and in Hell.
Palahniuk tells weekends on All Things Considered host Rebecca Roberts that Maddy’s moniker is really a list of all the things that were ever important to her parents. “She is the result of all of the different phases of their lives that they thought would save them,” he says. “Former hippies, former beatniks, former Scientologists, former Reaganites, former everything. And now she’s dead.”
In Hell, Maddy teams up with a motley crew of friends — a scribe who died in the burning of the Library of Alexandria, a French noblewoman, a Greek soldier and a safety-pinned punk — all trapped for eternity as teenagers. It’s an odd hybrid of The Breakfast Club and Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit.
“It does have that kind of ship of fools, contained circumstance,” Palahniuk says. “People have to deal with their issues together; they have to expose themselves and kind of exhaust themselves.”
Palahniuk’s Hell is a place where people go to be stripped of their former lives and forget the things they were attached to in life.
It’s also a place where the damned bribe demons with candy bars for better assignments in the vast telemarketing banks that are Hell’s main form of employment. [Read the full article...]
The Road to Hell, Paved With Telemarketers
The New York Times Book Review – October 19, 2011 (Excerpt)
By any definition of the word “decency” it’s been a long time since Chuck Palahniuk wrote a decent book. His lurid recent efforts, from “Snuff” (pornography) to “Tell-All” (movie-star gossip) to “Pygmy” (broken English from teenage foreign terrorists), have tried the patience of even his most die-hard fans. These books have been skimpy and tired enough to suggest that this “Fight Club” author has had all the fight drained out of him. But he shows new signs of life in “Damned,” a book full of tastelessly hilarious gallows humor about a teenage girl in hell.
When “Tell-All” came out, Mr. Palahniuk told one interviewer that he was reading Judy Blume books. Apparently he wasn’t kidding. Every chapter of “Damned” begins with a satirical spin on Ms. Blume’s best known young adult novel, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.” But the “Damned” version is “Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison.” And Madison is a Hollywood brat who sees Satan as a really big star.
As his last books have shown, Mr. Palahniuk is capable of coming up with an idea like that and not going much further, expecting an outrageous premise and a few overworked gags to carry a whole novel. But “Damned” has a set-up that really speaks to him. He clearly likes writing in the voice of a caustic 13-year-old. He appreciates that hell has great visual potential. And he fully exploits the idea that a girl raised by a movie star (her mother) and producer (her father) with bankrupt show-business values would actually find hell kind of homey. For her “the flickering orange glow of flames, billowing white clouds of steam, and black clouds of smoke” actually seem nicely rustic and après-ski. [Read the full article...]
Book review: ‘Damned,’ by Chuck Palahniuk
The Washington Post Book Review – October 28, 2011 (Excerpt)
And now, from the Well, What Did You Expect file: Chuck Palahniuk imagines a great hell.
His matter-of-fact underworld is the charming setting of “Damned,” a slight but very funny coming-of-age (after-you’re-dead) novel, which the publisher describes with rare book-jacket precision as “the Inferno by way of The Breakfast Club.”
Our Virgil, 13-year-old Madison, is the crackling, chubby daughter of a Hollywood power couple. Maddie, who may have died from a drug overdose, begins each chapter in warped Judy Blume fashion, “Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison.”
Her voice is so crisp and entertaining that she can’t help seeming like one of those idealized, too-smart teens who sometimes frequent young-adult fiction. When Maddie suggests that “thirteen years seems to be when human beings reach their fullest flower of intelligence, personality, and pluck,” you wonder if she (or Palahniuk) has ever visited an actual middle school.
But an overly sharp narrator is hardly a fatal flaw in such a lively book. Palahniuk’s descriptions of hell are inspired, crafted with great comic flair and the brilliant satirical stipulation that the Christian fundamentalists are right: Hell is literal, dinosaur bones were faked by Satan and among the unspeakable demons slurping about is Robert Mapplethorpe. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Nobel, and any other good bookstore.