Snuff ,the latest offering from the cult author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke), details the world record attempt of Cassie Wright, a self proclaimed ‘porn queen’ whose attempts at a world record takes place within the sphere of her work.
Much of the novel is concerned with the reasoning behind Cassie’s record efforts, although we never hear from Cassie herself. Written in his usual acerbic style, Palahniuk narrates the story from the points of view four characters, three of which are hoping to personally aid Cassie’s efforts, with the fourth being the orchestrator of the event.
Each character is thoroughly dislikeable and instantly forgettable. Palahniuk devotes whole chapters to each character, heading the chapters with a character’s name as an indication as to who we are now hearing from. Not only does this make for difficult reading, the characters are so transferable that it is often difficult to know which character is narrating. Every chapter could easily belong to any of the characters, primarily due to Palahniuk’s failure to create memorable characters. Perhaps a statement on his part, it leads to the failure of the book to create a lasting impression.
Snuff feels gimmicky; the book feels shallow and lightweight. Palahniuk’s choice to refer to every male character as ‘Dude’ quickly becomes tiresome.
The book takes itself seriously, hoping to make a bold statement. Yet Palahniuk’s choice to open with a quote from The Duchess of Malfi and frequently reference history and trivia, (always referred to as a ‘true fact’) simply makes the book pretentious, trying far too hard, as if he has a continual need to prove himself.
Having enjoyed a number of his previous works, I had high expectations for Snuff, and perhaps that’s why I was so disappointed. Don’t judge Palahniuk on this book, he can be a fine writer and I would strongly recommend pursuing his other works which are well written, unfortunately that’s not the case here. With poorly drawn characters and a weak plot, I sincerely hope this is not a sign of Palahniuk’s work to come, but rather this book is simply a misfire in which to this point has been a great catalogue of work.