My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Opening Sentence: Good and evil have always existed
The story of 13 year old, Madison Spencer stuck in purgatory, otherwise known as earth, after violating her curfew on Halloween, who realizes that a post-alive joke has now resulted in an entire religion in her name.
What can I say about Chuck Palahniuk? If any of you have read him, you’ll know that this man is capable of being intensely profound while absolutely bizarre at the same time. It’s the opposite of sugar-coated bullshit. His true to life narratives are wrapped inside some of the weirdest and hilarious stories I’ve ever read.
I’ve heard criticism based on the novel’s narration. I liked that the book was narrated through the eyes of a dead 13 year old writing a blog to all the good people of hell. A girl that was too cynical and smart-mouthed for her age and yet apparently more sensible than any adult in the story gave it the sense of irony I’ve come to love in Palahniuk’s writing. Keeping in mind that this 13 year old is in fact dead and has been through hell, literally, I’m willing to overlook any perspective that may have felt too mature for her and write it off as experience.
This novel has a great condescending perspective of atheism and religion, while making the entire thing seem like a joke.
To make room for a new world religion, Leonard had stated that all religions had to be discredited. Everything held to be sacred and holy had to be reduced to a joke. No one could be allowed to discuss good or evil without sounding like a fool, and the mention of God or the Devil must be met with universal eye rolling. Most important, Leonard had insisted, intelligent people must be made to feel ashamed of their need for a higher power. They must be starved for a spiritual life until they would greedily accept any that would be offered to them.
He called it. Long before I did. Which is why I was dubious of criticism that said there wasn’t much substance in the story. There were passages that often gave me food for thought and had me smiling in agreement. The following is another example:
The avant-garde in every field consists of the lonely, the friendless, the uninvited. All progress in the product of the unpopular.
People in love – with nurturing, attentive, non-movie-star parents, they would never invent gravity. Nothing except deep misery leads to real success.
In the face of things today, I have to solemnly agree with Mr. Palahniuk
I don’t know what it says about me that a Palahniuk book like this gives me more cause for discussion and debate than most classics do. Maybe it’s my love for the bizarre and macabre that draws me to his style. I know he’s not for everybody. The cover of the book proudly proclaims “Palahniuk doesn’t write for tourists” – The New York Times and I would strongly agree. If you’re looking for a Young-Adult style bed time fairytale, don’t bother trying to read this.
Here is my attempt at cover art for the book:
1. One of the chief torments of Hell is that we all know, secretly, why we deserve to be there. (pg. 10)
2. The dead have better things to do than respond to your dumb-ass Ouija board queries concerning lottery numbers and who’s going to marry you. (pg. 10)
3. Religions exist because people would rather have a wrong answer than no answer at all. (pg. 16)
4. It’s exhausting, the energy it takes to unknow a truth. (pg. 141)
5. You never know the complicated deals two people negotiate in order to stay married beyond the first ten minutes. (pg. 149)
6. When you’re feeling depressed about being dead, duly remember that being alive wasn’t always a picnic. (pg. 173)
7. The buzzwords of her life were tolerance and respect , and she was trapped between them as if crushed in an ideological vise. (pg. 200)
8. Leonard preached that mankind would always long for an organized system of religious beliefs, but, like a scared insecure child, people would hide their need behind a mask of sarcasm and ironic detachment. (pg 253)