Book Review: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

The title is self-explanatory. Chuck Palahniuk, the literary god of transgressive fiction, who kind of forgot how to write great novels somewhere in 2009 with the release of Pygmy, tries to shock the reader even more with a bunch of short stories that should act as some sort of parables somehow… I think.

Don’t get me wrong. Chuck is still one of my favorite writers. There are a bunch of brilliant novels, some fantastic short stories, and I will always be fond of passages that made me laugh out loud or truly ponder over for weeks. But… but…

That’s the word. But.

Chuck Palahniuk is still a good writer, but there’s something that has happened to his style. Or maybe it’s just his vision. I don’t know how to define it. He writes for the sake of shocking, for the idea that someone might faint while reading his words, as it so famously happened with his short Guts a while back. But even that short story made some sense, and within the universe of Haunted it was perfect.

The last decade of Palahniuk can also be defined as his attempts at being as experimental as possible. Tell-All comes to mind. But… it seems, as it does with the main themes of his latest stories, that he’s being experimental for the sake of experimenting.

He wants us to faint for the sake of it.

He writes for the sake of it.

He’s no longer the struggling writer. He’s now a bit too fond of the comfort, of the fame, of those royalty checks.

I can only recommend this book to those who are absolutely obsessed with Palahniuk and must read everything he writes. That’s it. Because the stories contain within the pages of this book can’t be unread, but you sure wish you could.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

  1. A style like Palahniuk’s is particularly prone to diminishing returns. Shock value only takes you so far. This applies to many many of the authors prominent in the 1990s – Douglas Coupland being another prominent example.

  2. I really liked “Fight Club,” but I suspected after reading 20 pages of “Damned” (that was about as far as I got) that he’s becoming a little bit of a sell-out. I think I’ll try reading some of his earlier work.

    • Indeed. I recommend Diary, Lullaby, Choke, all of the early works. Also, Haunted is really good. And among his most recent works, Beautiful You, which is basically a Fifty Shades of Grey parody.

      • I own “Choke,” I haven’t read it yet but I liked the movie, mostly because I really like Sam Rockwell. I really want to read “Diary” but unfortunately it isn’t available at the local library.

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