Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk (New York: Doubleday, 2011)
Opening Lines and Summary:
"Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison. I'm just now arrived here, in Hell, but it's not my fault except for maybe dying from an overdose of marijuana."
"'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 must trek across the Dandruff Desert and cross the Valley of Used Disposable Diapers to confront Satan in his citadel, and 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."
What a pleasant surprise. I picked this one up despite knowing Palahniuk's books leave me feeling in desperate need of a shower, because the premise just seemed too damned funny (excuse the pun) to pass up. It was, and grody as the descriptions of the underworld were, Damned made me laugh more than it left me with that visceral ickiness I had after Pygmy and Choke. It's hilarious.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.