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Palahniuk has a knack for writing with a kind of obsessive feverishness that bleeds into the novels and, usually, the readers themselves. A trademark of his previous novels (most especially Choke and Survivor) are twisted, alluring central premises that start out too bizarre to wrap your head around and slowly resolve themselves into a satisfying internally consistent logic. Usually, this process leaves a few plot holes and loose ends in its wake, but what the hell, it's a good ride.
Diary is more mature than Palahniuk's former novels: the thematic structure is strong, the trademark gruesomeness is more subtlely and effectively applied, even the phrase repetitions are more significantly placed, if still used a bit liberally for my taste. But the novel still falls into the trap of biting off more than it can chew, and it raises an awful lot of questions, about the protaganist's husband, the town's history, and its own internal logic, that it never gets around to answering. Palahniuk's fans are used to chalking a few up to surrealism and not letting it get to them, but anyone who hasn't read Fight Club should be prepared to have the hell bugged out of them by the niggling questions.
As for the narration, it's competently done, which is saying a lot for the work: epistolary pieces by ANYONE are tough to narrate without infusing an emotion that obfuscates the significance of the words themselves, and lumping the wry sarcasm of the main character on top of that makes for a fairly difficult narration. I would have preferred less colour to it, but it doesn't get in the way. What did bother me (and may bother others who have read Palahniuk before they listen) is the pace: the author often spends pages spooling out a single twist in the plot amongst a bevy of meaningless detail, a device which works well on the page where you're free to rush through it, heart pounding, to get to the end of the segment, but which is simply torturous in audio form.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
While I must admit that I liked Chuck Palahniuk's "Lullaby" more, I was really drawn into this story - especially by Martha Plimpton's wonderful narration. I simply had to know what the heck was at the root of all the chaos. When all was revealed, I was fairly satisfied. Chuck Palahniuk is clearly one of the most creative (if not twisted) minds of my generation and I look forward to his next novel with great anticipation.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful