Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Never answer an ad that says, "Artists' Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months." Palahniuk's 23 characters did, and now they're hungry, isolated, and telling more and more desperate stories. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In this over-the-top gore fest from Palahniuk ( Fight Club, 0 1996 ; Lullaby, 0 2002), a group of aspiring writers move into a locked, windowless theater to write their masterpieces under the guidance of a (seemingly) old man. The story of their hellacious retreat-kidnapping is interspersed with poems about the various writers and stories by them. Convinced that they will one day sell the story of their dystopian nightmare for millions, the writers seek out suffering to make their lives saleable: they starve themselves, lop off body parts, cannibalize, and so on. The stories here vaguely resemble ghost stories, but rather than being scary, they're just disgusting. Sex dolls shaped like children, a fetus aborted by Marilyn Monroe, a pool intake sucking out a man's colon--you get the picture. There's a point to the madness--Palahniuk is exploring our yearning for suffering and our newfound desire to make our misery marketable. The allegory is sometimes very clever and pitch-black funny. But Haunted 0 provokes a lot more nausea and eye rolls than deep thoughts. One hesitates to criticize a novel featuring a chef who murders people who review his dishes poorly, but we'll take our chances; this novel will please Palahniuk's hardcore fans and few others. But he certainly has his many and devoted fans. --John Green Copyright 2005 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

What elevates Palahniuk's best novels (e.g., Fight Club) above their shocking premises is his ability to find humanity in deeply grotesque characters. But such generosity of spirit is not evident in his latest, which charts the trials of a group of aspiring writers brought together for a three-month writer's retreat in an abandoned theater. The novel intersperses the writers' poems and short stories with tales of the indignities they heap upon themselves after deciding to turn their lives into a "true-life horror story with a happy ending." They lock themselves in the theater, reasoning that once they're found, they'll all become rich and famous. They raise the stakes of their story by first depriving themselves of phones, and then of food and electricity; eventually they cut off their own fingers, toes and unmentionables before they start dying off and eating each other. Palahniuk tells his story with such blithe disregard for these characters that it's hard not to wish he had dispensed with the novel altogether and published, instead, the 23 short stories that pop up throughout the book. For instance, "Obsolete," about a young girl about to commit state-mandated suicide, and "Slumming," about rich couples who pretend to be homeless, play so deftly with expectations and have an emotional core so surprising that they consistently, powerfully transcend their macabre premises to showcase the heart beating beneath the horrors. Agent, Edward Hibbert at Donadio & Olson. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Sixteen bizarre characters with appellations like Comrade Snarky, Chef Assassin, and Mother Nature voluntarily lock themselves away from the world in an abandoned theater to write, ostensibly amid no distractions. Their short stories and poems make up half of Palahniuk's latest novel (after Diary) and may or may not be their back stories; the rest of the tale centers on a cast of lunatics who sabotage their own environment and destroy their own food and life-support mechanisms until they are reduced to cannibalism in what self-consciously becomes a parody of reality television shows like Survivor. Palahniuk casts aside all constraints in this twisted saga of antagonists without a protagonist. The short stories would work if taken singly and at intervals, but strung together they become a catalog of atrocities. Palahniuk is a clever and inventive writer, but this book is recommended only for public library readers with strong stomachs and morbid dispositions. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.