Guts

[URL=“http://www.chuckpalahniuk.net/books/haunted/guts.php”]A short story by Chuck Palahniuk.

Maybe some of you have read it, but I warn you. Do not read if you are squeamish. I didn’t think I was, and I had a strong physical reaction to this.

Yeah, I read this when it was first published. That one paragraph, the one where people in public readings fainted, really delivers.

I had heard of the story before but hadn’t ever actually read it. He does what he does really well, but I think it’s safe to say that his writing isn’t for everybody.

I’m a little surprised that Cronenberg hasn’t ever tried to adapt any of his work.

Eh.

Watching a movie in college where a wildlife biologist slowly, carefully, cut a square from the flayed skull of a dead deer, caused me to nearly pass out, run out of the classroom, a drink from the water fountain, and white out against the wall of the hallway, unable to stand for about 5 minutes; that’s something that delivers. Or hearing the story of the man slowly, while awake, having screws driven into his skull, in his own words; yea, that’ll do it.

This story? It’s almost silly, like something out of Saw or some horror movie by a modern day Argento. And the silliness about his sister in the end just pushes it over into campfire storynight tales. “And then, my sister got pregnant … and all i had left of my hand was … this… HOOK!”.

There’s two or three stories in Haunted (the book from which Guts is taken) that are up to this quality. It’s an interesting read, even though by far the majority of the stories don’t hit the mark and come across as trying too hard. It’s kind of a Canterbury Tales for homicidal perverts. Probably the only piece of writing that has actually made me gag.

I’ve read and seen worse, to be sure. But the particular phrasing of that one paragraph really got to me. I get the feeling it fits a lot better in the context of Haunted than on its own as an internet oddity. Difficult to compete with youtube.

I was physically nauseated the first time I read it, several years ago. Chuck actually reads this live and counts each person that retches or leave the room as 1 point.

See that’s wierd, for me there is a literary uncanny valley that insulates me from feeling affected by this story. I suppose i just can’t see this as being real, the whole stage and setup are just too deliberately perverted and unconventional. It’s that one, two, three extra steps further he takes that loses me.

I guess I read enough (shall we say) experimental authors that I have no problems making that leap of faith a lot of the time. Palahniuk I enjoy because he always manages to throw in a little grain of something that ropes me in, and then all of a sudden has me involved in characters that are light years away from my own personality. This particular piece is so over the top that I think your urban legend reference is not accidental; Haunted is pretty much CP’s interpretation of that genre dead on, not as the window dressing it’s been in a lot of his other works. This one is particularly grisly in a way that I haven’t seen since the climactic moment in Choke that guarantees it will never be made into a movie, but most of the others are unsettling in other ways.

And, btw, I just wanted to thank the Palahniuk loathing contingent for staying out of this so far.

Choke is my favorite book by Palahniuk, it think it would be great on film. Haunted was OK, I couldn’t really get into it though.