Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk review

Palahniuk's newsest book: Damned

My review of “Damned,” by Chuck Palahniuk  (author of Fight Club and Choke).    Excuse my diversion from my blogging on my daytrip into becoming published by an  indie company, but I just finished reading this book and feel compelled to give it a review for people looking for a read or considering this read.  First off, and where I feel this may have something to do with literary finese, I chose this book because I read the outside cover which gave the hook…and boy was I hooked.  The last time I paid full price for a book was in nursing school…and it was manadatory.  I paid nearly $27.00 for this book, but like I said, I read the cover and was like, “wow.  How much is in our bank account, Dear?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, but between writing my own novels, work, homeschooled kid, and a senior with piloting lessons-well, leaisurely reading can only be fit in around 2am, when i’m sleeping.  So cheers to Mr. Palahniuk, who took 2 days of my life away from me while I emersed myself in the underworld of Maddison Spencer.  This story still haunts me, but not in a bad clanking chains, hearing ghosts kind of way; more in a way of literary, creep into my dreams sort of way.  I must also confess that I had to write down several words he used and look them up: caterwauling, cacophony, roiling, and din to name a few.  Not that I had never heard these words, it’s just I have never heard or read them in correct context before.  Rest assured, I will save and use these at a later date and time.

Okay, onto my review:

“Damned,” By Chuck Palahniuk was well written, full of symbolism, full of life (even in Hell), and vibrantly eerie in imagination.  The story is told in first person by Maddison Spencer who has died and gone to hell.  She is by no means a normal child, who grew up the daughter of a famous actress and father who I believe has something to do with movies also.  She went to all the best boarding schools and lived a semi-charmed life under the strange guide of her post-hippie, pro-recycle re-use reduse, save the whales, sex, drug, rock and roll type parents.  Once in hell, she is met by three other kids who, without any preconceptions, become this hell-gang version of  The Breakfast Club…Maddy being Ally Sheedy.  Being of the character she is, she tries to make the best of hell, so far as wanting to be Satan’s buddy.  The story is quite vivd and at one point a bit raunchy, making me blush at just how graphic Chuck can be, but he is very blatant and doesn’t hold anything back so I continued through.  His description of hell is graphic, vivid, and at times a bit humerous in nature.  The currency of hell is in chocolate and other tasty sweeties, so there is some definite humor there.  Also the recounting of the ways one is condemned to eternal damnation are sometimes down right jovial ( I no longer honk my horn in traffic or spit on the floor).  I actually caught myself swearing while at Disneyland (yep, the happiest place on Earth) and wondered how many more uses of the “F” word I had left, or was I already past the damnation point.

If you don’t mind a little blasphamy, can find humor in good old fashioned poking at religions, and don’t mind a few facts into demonolgy, AND know this is pure fiction to be taken lightly, then I would definitely recommend this book.  Along with a dictionary.  I especially loved the ending when Maddy met the chauffeur.  At that point I flipped to the back jacket cover and looked at the picture of Chuck and asked, “are you the devil?”  Mind you, after every chapter I looked back at his picture and shook my head at how wonderfully, perverse this man’s mind could be.  And he looks so normal.  Not at all like the George Romero or Stephen King, I would picture him to be.  Normal looking people with that kind of imagination are probably the scariests…and so I aspire to be that brilliant someday.

In short: GO BUY THE BOOK.

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

My next review: pediatric advance life support (PALS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) by the American Heart Association.

CPR, PALS, ACLS, Stroke classes


5 responses to “Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk review

  1. Alright, so I know this book is so full of symbolism that i should be banging my fifteen year old head against the wall. However, I’m having a little trouble making connections. Anyone care to help me out so I can understand a little better?

  2. Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. I feel like theres a reason why he brought up jonathan swift and the Breakfast club so many times but i have not read enough Swift to know.. and i feel like individualism plays a large role in the book. Maybe vs society? The reason why I read this book is because I saw this review and i thought it was pretty strong. I think power is a major theme in the book but what does Hitler symbolize? Blogger, feel free to jump in if you understand it a little bit better. lol my explainations sounded a lot better in my head.(Every time I swear now I reluctantly think of dandruff field….)

    • There is quite a bit of symbolism to take note of: the lack of a life line noted by the palm reader, the comparison to the forever immortalized Breakfast Club from the 80’s, how candy is currency as anything that tastes so good must be bad. Even the depiction of being telemarketers as the job from hell, literally, playing into the book.
      It is my opinion that he wrote this for pure fun, but snuck in a piece of symbolism or two. The chauffeur part at the end is the greatest symbol I find representing an author torn or conflicted with his role within the book. Also Maddison’s comparison to herself and the characters in novels speaks mounds when she is told who she really is within the story. That is an epic point of symbolism in relation to those made up characters she pitied and herself. It is like realizing a nightmare is the real world and you are the person you pitied all along.
      For the most part, if you aren’t writing some major essay, then read for the pure enjoyment of this truly screwed up story and enjoy a couple of hours in the mind of Palahniuk.

  3. See, now that makes a little bit more sense. However, wouldn’t what you mentioned in your first paragraph (palm reader, candy, breakfast club) be more along the lines of foreshadowing? I dont know. I love to read and write but as far as literary elements go i am clueless. As for his references to Jane Eyre and Rebecca, I wondered why he brought the books up so often but i didn’t make that connection. I like it. If you liked Palahniuk you might like Dia Reeves.

    • Foreshadowing? Yes. Think of it along the lines of leading up to events. This is where symbolism comes into play, when you, as the reader, realize all these little tidbits of what seemed like random information actually have very deep meaning in the end. This is true in relation to the palm reader, but really emulates in regards to speaking about how Jane Eyre was nothing more than a character in a book who thought she was real and how Madison laughed at that. Funny how things turned out for Madison, right? Now that is irony.

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