Recommended Reading: Chuck Palahniuk's "Horror" Novels

Chuck Palahniuk is not a horror novelist per se, but he is certainly an effective shock artist in his work, even outside of the horror genre.  He is an amazingly versatile author who has jumped around stylistically throughout his career, apparently without any major missteps (except maybe Diary).

Notably, Palahniuk wrote what is commonly referred to as his "horror trilogy" in the middle of his career, three unconnected novels that dealt to varying extents with the supernatural and (usually) other elements of horror fiction.  They still read like Palahniuk books, but they were a departure from the dystopian and postmodern ideas in his other works.  Additionally, there is also Damned which was written later, and there is an anticipated sequel to that (tentatively titled Doomed) in the works as I write this.

Lullaby (2002) - Really good story, and it's probably the most accessible of all his books.  This has my vote for the most film-able of all Chuck's works, and I think it would be a good one at that.  Other than Fight Club, I usually recommend this book as an introduction to his works.  This novel also marks the first time Palahniuk shifted into a different genre.  This and the two that followed are considered his "horror trilogy," even though they have no overlap besides the ostensible genre.

Diary (2003) - It just didn't work, so I can't recommend it at all.  I thought the ending was great, but I just didn't like it, and no one else seemed to either, including the critics.  To date this is my least favorite book by Chuck.  I can't put my finger on why exactly, other than the fact the "seams" were kind of obvious.  By that I mean that it was distractingly apparent where he was shoe-horning assorted elements into the narrative, the way he previously did with recipes for soap and explosives in Fight Club, only it just felt so forced that I was annoyed with it.

Haunted (2005) - Good stuff.  The main criticism people have with this book is that it's brutal, like he pulled out all the stops.  My view of criticisms like that are that there ought to be novelists out there trying to find the extremes, and maybe this deserves commending precisely because it pushed the envelope.  Personally, I liked it.  It's also unusual in its story-telling approach.  Chuck started changing up his writing style in less-than-subtle ways around this point, which is something few point out about him even though it's the mark of a great artist instead of a hack who falls back on what was commercially successful.  I mean, he's still experimenting even though he has a loyal following at this point.  You have to respect that even in the instances where it might not work.  No worries here, because it does.

Damned (2011) - It's something of a parody of teen novels like the V.C. Andrews crap that was the Twilight series of the late '80s.  I never read those, so I'm sure I missed some references to that material, but the story here was epic and varied enough to hold your attention all the way through and leave you wondering what's next.  In fact, he really couldn't squeeze everything in, and so it will continue in at least one sequel, which is the first time Palahniuk has continued a work (even with fans begging for more Tyler Durden).

I should mention that there is also a novel by Chuck called Invisible Monsters (and an alternate version of that named Invisible Monsters Remix as well), but the monsters are metaphorical rather than literal.  The original version is highly recommended, but I wouldn't consider it horror.


Copyright 2012 the Ale[x]orcist.