Haunted (Unabridged)

ISBN: 1415920052
ISBN 13: 9781415920053
By: Chuck Palahniuk

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About this book

Haunted is a novel made up of stories: twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter. They are told by the people who have all answered an ad headlined 'Artists Retreat: Abandon your life for three months'. They are led to believe that here they will leave behind all the distractions of 'real life' that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them. But 'here' turns out to be a cavernous and ornate old theatre where they are utterly isolated from the outside world - and where heat and power and, most importantly, food are in increasingly short supply. And the more desperate the circumstances become, the more desperate the stories they tell - and the more devious their machinations to make themselves the hero of the inevitable play/movie/non-fiction blockbuster that will certainly be made from their plight.

Reader's Thoughts

Meg M

This is the fourth Palahniuk book I've read, and it's going to be my last. It seems like he just sat down at the computer and thought, "What are the most disgusting possible things I could write about?" and wrote that. At the last minute, he added characters.I couldn't even finish this book. It was just gross, with no literary value to even out the fact that it was just gross. I had to read it in small chunks. Sometimes I couldn't even bring myself to finish a whole chapter. I'd pick it up again weeks later and make it through just one more chapter (at best) before putting it down again for a month.I hated this book. Just thinking about this book makes my stomach churn. I can deal with violence and gore if it's key to the plot, but the plot of this book was "look at how gross this is," and that's not really a plot.I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. It's just awful.

Lady Danielle

I... I... I just.... WTF?!?!?!Stopped on page 25 I can't finish this. I... this book is weird and disgusting and gut wrenching. I decided to read this book because I read in a group comment that it was the weirdest thing they've ever read. So I decided to give it a try... no. Just fucking no.Stories about some kid sodomising himself with a fucking carrot and some Vaseline; a teenager jacking off with some candle wax -- THROUGH HIS PISS HOLE. The storyteller jacking off in a pool hovering over the pool's suction shit so it's basically eating his ass whilst he jacks off and next thing you know it's sucking up his guts and he has to eat his asshole out to save himself. Occasional sentences about doing what the French do or some weird shit...No.Stop.What the fuck. "My goal was just to write some new form of horror story, something based on the ordinary world. Without supernatural monsters or magic. This would be a book you wouldn't keep next to your bed." -- Chuck PalahniukMr Palahniuk, this isn't horror, this is some vile shit, sir. Vile, vile, shit. I get you wanted horror without supernatural monsters or magic, but these stories are not it!. Read some of Stephen King's works for some real ordinary world horror -- Misery, for example. That's some nerve-racking stuff. That's horror. This... (shakes my head). My eyes felt as though they were about to pop out my head whilst I was reading. Excuse me, going to brush my eyeballs and brain to remove the images and thoughts I've just read.The author was right about one thing:This is a book I will not be keeping next to my bed.

Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen

5 Amazing Disturbing StarsFirst of all I have to warn readers about the disturbing content in this book. This book is not for the weak stomach....It has been reported that when Chuck has read the short story "Guts" from this novel, there have been injuries with people passing out.To me this book reminded me somewhat of the setup of "The Canterbury Tales". The frame style of this book consists of each chapter starting out with what is going on in the story with the 17 would be authors who have signed up for a "Writers Retreat", then it follows with a poem about the person who will tell a story and then the story. There are 23 stories and the motifs of these stories consist of sexual deviance, sexual identity, homosexuality, desperation, social distastefulness, disease, murder, death and existentialism.The satire of this book is "the battle for credibility" that has resulted from the ease with which one can publish through the use of modern technology but some say it is a satire of reality television.The main story centers on a group of 17 individuals who have decided to participate in a secret writers' retreat. They are only allowed to bring one piece of luggage. They are all picked up by bus and brought to an abandoned theater and are locked inside for 3 months. During this time each participant is to write a work of art. They start out having enough food and water along with heat, electricity, bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry facilities.The group starts out innocent enough but then they decide that they could make a better story of their own suffering inside the theater and become wealthy from their story of fate. They then start to individually sabotage the food and utilities with each character trying to only destroy one food or utility to increase their drama slightly. Since each character does this individually and don't work as a team, they end up destroying all the food and utilities forcing them all to struggle with starvation, cold and darkness.Oh, but they don't stop there. Each character wants to out-do each other with their suffering (just so they are cast as the main role of their suffering) so self-mutilation, murder, suicide and cannibalism.OK - I'm stopping there so I don't give away too much of the book. The short stories are sick and demented but all tie back to the story and each deals with the sick mental psyches of people today.This book may have taken me over a day to read but it was so worth it!!

Josh Cutting

This book is incredibly uneven, that's its downfall. There are some really good moments, some really bad moments, and one or two truly brillant ones. Looking at it as what it essentially is; a collection of short stories, it's really no better or worse than any other short story collection, and actually should get extra points for its brazen audacity. The unifying material that links all of the stories together is terribly weak, and is what ultimately sinks the book.The first story "Guts" is the best. Not because it's so incredibly gross (and it truly is) but because it is unblinking in its logic. It creates an outrageous yet believable scenerio and follows inexorably to its horrifying conclusion. It's the one story that really stuck with me on a visceral (ha ha) level.The rest of the book reads like it's trying to keep up with the pace of the first story, but it can't. No story that follows is a strongly written or as moving as the first one, but more just shock value for shock's sake. For every story that almost hits the right stride (Exodus) there are those that just plain don't make sense (Punch Drunk, Something's Got to Give)This is the second Palanhuik book that I've read, and I think there really is something there. I appreciate his outrage at society, but I think he needs to dial back his delivery just a hair in order to create truly effective satire. He goes from 0-60 so quickly that the social commentary gets lost in the absurdity of the scenerio. If you can't believe it's possible, it doesn't hit home. Writers like Vonnegut push right to the boundary, then siddle a toe past. Palanhuik sprints to the boundary, then vaults as far as he can go. Vonnegut is a razor, Palanhuik is a blunt instrument.I'm not done with him yet, he's at least shown me enough to give him another try.


** spoiler alert ** Sometimes in the humor section of the bookstore you can find a spoof of a popular book or writer. That's not what Haunted is, but it's the first thing that comes to mind.While the cover promises that Haunted is "A Novel," the innards tell a different story: 24 short short stories and 24 prose poems tied together by a thin framing device. This frame is supposed to evoke storytelling parties of the past, such as the Canterbury Tales or the Decameron, in which the participants each tell a story. Henry James' "Turn of the Screw" was structured similarly. In Haunted, each of the semi-anonymous characters from the frame "novel" tell a story and have a poem told about them. The problem with this approach is that every character tells their story as if they were Chuck Palahniuk, and about halfway through bits of the framing device start slipping into the stories. The novel itself is narrated in first-person although the narrator never participates in any of the activities of the others.And oh, the activities! The basic hook for the novel here is that a group of aspiring writers have gone off on a weird "Writer's Retreat" in which they hole up in an abandoned movie theater somewhere for 90 days. The dust jacket tells us this is "a satire of reality television" -- and sure, the group of strangers locked in a house together is a common reality TV trope. But if this were a satire of Chuck Palahniuk, what would happen?What would happen is that the writers would all have horrible personal problems, would begin worshiping at the First Church of Self-Destruction, they would start talking like coroners and doctors with jargon littering their dialogue, they would repeat themselves with a chorus, and they'd throw up a bunch of plot twists.And that's just what happens. For no reason at all, except that the participants of this "Writer's Retreat" think they can cash in someday if they suffer enough, start chopping off fingers, starving themselves, sabotaging the environmental controls, and consuming human flesh.Palahniuk is best when he's right at the edge of absurd. Fight Club was there. Survivor and Choke were at the precipice. Those novels worked. Even with its flaws, Rant toed the long drop. But Haunted hurls itself into the abyss, and I understand how Chuck writes and I understand how Chuck wants you to feel when you're reading his books, and this isn't it. This book makes you exclaim aloud "This is fucking ridiculous."These complaints are all about the framing device, the Canterbury participants with stupid nicknames like "Earl of Slander" and "Lady Baglady." The morons like "The Matchmaker" or "Agent Tattletale" who chop off all but two of their fingers but are still described as holding objects.if this were a Chuck Palahniuk satire, would one character chop off their penis and another choke to death on it? Would a story involving dressing in drag and getting your ass kicked lead to fundraising for crashing planes?You bet it would.Haunted is an obnoxious mess that fails to get any reader buy-in to the things the characters are doing, and Chuck's signature style is turned up to eleven -- to the point that you're constantly reminded that you're reading a book by an author with an identifiable style.Would a Chuck Palahniuk satire be written that way?So Haunted is, at best, a self-satire by a writer who maybe recognizes his own tropes and wants to poke a little bit of fun. At worst, it's an unsuccessful experiment at creating a compelling anthology novel.The stories themselves are mostly really good, but as presented it feels like Chuck cleaned out a file named "Novel Ideas" and threw them into this stew instead of developing them individually.Of stand-out note are "Guts," which Chuck read aloud on his "Diary" tour and was previously published in Playboy. It's plotless but has a decent 1-2-3 punch to it. "The Nightmare Box" is a great little scary story. "Dissertation" feels like it could get some legs under it. "Obsolete" is a fun piece of speculative fiction. "Evil Spirits" is good enough it should go somewhere, but it doesn't. Many of the others are simply average, and a few are completely forgettable ("Ritual", "Green Room", "Speaking Bitterness").My advice: if you're going to read this book, skip the "Chapters" and the poems, and just read the stories. The attempt to add context to them with the weak writer's-retreat frame doesn't work.


This book is vile. It is disgusting. No matter how much you can take, you will squirm and say "Oh My GOD!" out loud on the bus or plane or couch or wherever it is you read. It is a nasty book. But Haunted is so much more than that and so worth reading. Haunted is set in a drab old theater, past it's prime, boarded up, invisible, and impenetrable to the outside world. Inside the theater are 23 characters. 23 people with names like the Earl of Slander and Agent Tattletale. Each character is introduced with a poem and a story. Usually gruesome or grotesque, the stories eventually create the world each person inhabits, explain why they agreed to drop off the face of the earth for a while, and how they relate to the other characters in the book. Narratives in between the character stories relate what's happening within the hotel. How the characters are coping with no modern amenities or food, who has died and what the remaining characters will do to themselves and others to obtain fame and sympathy once they're rescued.While the stories in the book are (as everyone has said) sometimes depraved, they all aren't like that and the book ends on a beautifully optimistic note - though not everyone is going to think that way. Really, I can only think of two that made me want to stop reading, but I didn't - I pushed through. And I encourage anyone who is thinking of reading Haunted to do the same thing. You might just love it to death.

Tee Jay

This is a bad book barely held together by fleeting and brief moments of fantastic insight. Just when I felt like I was wasting my time and the novel couldn't get any more disgusting, stupid, boring, or any other negative sentiment, it would then turn for just a brief second and capture my interest fully and completely. At these dispersed points the book would almost redeem itself. Then, within no time at all, the nice respite from the garbage prose would come to an end and the author would then resume his contrived and gimmicky (and also badly written) prose found throughout Haunted.I couldn't help but think about the movie Fight Club when I read this novel, which is a glaring indication that Palahniuk is a one trick pony. The dialogue, the plot, the outlandish events—it was like Palahniuk was just trying to redo and at the same time outdo what he has already written. What else can I say? This books sucks. It blows. It'll make a reader's skin crawl and feel there is no hope for humanity—if humanity has ever existed at all anyway. However, simultaneously, these reactions are also true feelings, guttural, visceral, real—human. And therein lies that quirky and depressing insight.


I had a hard time finishing Haunted, if you wanna know the truth. But it's just the way I like it, the way it is. There’s really no easy way to read a Chuck book. Ha-ha. Some stories were a waste of time. Some were just too excellent: Guts, Exodus, Box-shit, and that scene or whatever it was when Comrade Snarky said, "I fainted....and you ate my ass?” … “You fed me my own ass?” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!As a whole, the book has a disoriented flow. If we talk about music, it'll be like a beautiful sound of discordant notes fitting together into the music sheet played by the orchestra to your ears. But hey, this book, in its truest nature, causes both psychological and physiological disorientation. Fucking gory and gross. Especially that part wherein someone was rotting in the forest. The writing there was beyond excellent. Some stories and scenes just stand alone. Live all by itself. They can survive without the other or without being in the book. The way this book was written was really eccentric. You can get lost easily if you're not used to the way Chucky writes. This book requires a high dose of patience—if you don't have it, then don't read it. It's not reader-friendly. At some parts of the book, you'll tell yourself, "Why the fuck am I still reading this?" or "This is a waste of fucking time." ... I told myself that—lots of times. That’s a normal experience though when you’re reading a Chuck book.Writers' Retreat, being away from the world of three months to create their own masterpiece—Disasterpieces; this made me think of the Fucking Show titled Big Brother. Inside this book exists really fucked-up characters. Disgusting, I must say. The idea was really an innovation. And as usual, the sick twisted mind of the author didn't fail to make me applause using one hand. In the first place, I didn't know I can do it. This is the new taste of horror, as Chuck said; it’s like humor and horror inside a bottle of beer. Intoxicating. Horrifying. Funny. Really funny. The world is meant for suffering—for you to suffer. If you understand that, you might chase suffering—and suffering might run away from you. You might even need to feel you're suffering just to feel you're alive and life is worth living. Quoting from Mr. Whittier (a creature from this book) , "Think of a rock polisher, one of those drums, goes round and round, rolls twenty-four/seven, full of water and rocks and gravel. Grinding it all up. Round and round. Polishing those ugly rocks into gemstones. That’s the earth. Why it goes around. We’re the rocks. And what happens to us—the drama and pain and joy and war and sickness and victory and abuse—why, that’s just the water and sand to erode us. Grind us down. To polish us up, nice and bright." On the characters’ attempt to metamorphose their sufferings into something they can sell, they craft it into stories. They distort it. Make it worse. Make it better. Make it unreal.The story behind the story behind the story. The truth behind the truth. The reality behind the reality. Perhaps, that is what's happening in this world. The world being turned into fiction. Isn't that at least scary? The narrative style of Chuck in Haunted is really incomparable. And this book of his, hits a lot of things. Obviously, you might know what those things are.The book is definitely Haunted. The cover of the book should be given beyond five stars. Now, let me clap with one hand. *clap


This is honestly the worst book I have ever read. I finished it, only because of my amazement at how bad it was and how it never deviated from that.I was intrigued by the premise: a group of writers volunteer to go on a retreat to write their masterpiece. The book has a chapter of plot, followed by either a poem or short story from one of the participants. Sounds cool!The book falls apart immediately. All of the stories/poems are obviously written by the same person. They share themes, style, and emotion. Plus, they all suck, not to mention some are gross, just for the sake of being gross. Furthermore, all of the losers on this retreat so desperately want fame, they start sacrificing themselves to make a more heroic tale of their seclusion. My only hope was that it would turn out to be ONE GUY with multiple personalities fighting writer's block. THAT would have been cool, but no, it wasn't.Don't read this book!


First of all, I'd like to warn you all that the cover of this novel glows in the dark. I didn't find this out until I was more than half way done with the novel and after reading one night, but it on my bedside table, only to have the crap scared out of me when I rolled over and saw a glowing face! In Palahniuk's own twisted way he really gives a great commentary on society and the human condition through this novel. If you can get past the disgustingly gory, and yet entrancing, scenes it really holds a great message.




Don't be fooled, I may have chosen 5 stars for this novel, but not because I loved it. This book is dynamic.This novel looks so innocent and harmless, sitting there with it's ghostly lavender and white cover and "Fight Club" was great, I'll give it a read.This novel will stretch you to breaking point and beyond what you have ever read before. To give an example, when Chuck Palahniuk gives a public reading of the short story "Guts", the ambulance shows up before the end of it. People have fainted, vomited and moaned in disgust over this story. I was not able to read through the whole chapter, I felt very dizzy. And I think this is only chapter two. Things go awry when these strangers gather for a writing retreat and the rest seems like an experiment in how horrible people can possibly be to each other.The format is an overarching story about the downward spiral of the retreat and peppered with the short stories of the attendees. The end short story is the best, if you can make it that far.There is no "Love-hate" icon for this story. This book is horrifying in the experience; not unlike an STD it stays with you and you have to learn to live with the experience you had with it.I want to recommend it, but I'm afraid it's like going to bed with someone and not telling them you have AIDS. The reason you don't want to tell them is that you want to share the misery. You'll feel blindsided even if you are prepared for it. I suppose this would be extreme reading; but is somewhat of an underground cult-classic. Bring it up with the artistic circles or geeks alike and you will have found at least one or more persons who's read "Guts" at least.All in all Palahnuik has realized and exercised the right to be as explicit as possible, because books don't come with a Parental Advisory or MPAA rating.I gave my copy away, but I downloaded the audio...


I really enjoyed Diary by Chuck Palahniuk as well as the movie Fight Club. Haunted, not so much. The overall critique of reality TV by way of a reality writer's retreat that worked like a nihilistic Survivor or American Idol was promising. But the book's design of being carried by the short stories of the writers on retreat left the book uneven and less satisfying. A few of the stories rose to the task, but overall the book didn't quite live up to its promising premise.The book did leave an impression with a disgusting short story the author swears caused 73 people to faint at readings he has done in promoting the book while it was in progress. The tales of masturbation gone horribly wrong didn't make me want to faint. I just wondered if I wanted to bother to keep reading. I did and found that I might have been better to stop sooner. But I don't actually regret finishing the book as the whole is better than the sum of its parts.


I was really excited about this one after being disappointed with "Lullaby" and "Diary." Basically, it's a book of short stories each by a fictional author, each introduced by a poem about the writer, and linked together by mini-chapters about the writers' retreat they are all on. Trapped in a house and running out of food, they write, record, and videotape their experience, certain that when they are finally rescued, they will all become media darlings destined for reality tv fame, if any of them survive, that is. The first story, "Guts," had a reputation for making listeners pass out when Pahlaniuk read it aloud at book signings. My friend Jim and I also took great pleasure in reading that story aloud to oblivious victims. I think he even read it to his mom. My other favorite story is the one about the life-like dolls at the police station, just totally unbelievable. One critic complained that this book was "too over the top," and it's like, dude, what the fuck do you think the point was?


Warning: The cover of this edition glows in the dark. Do not place on your bed stand unless you want to have a heart attack. I speak from experience.There are 21 short stories in Haunted. Some of them are amazing such as the notorious "Guts". Others are so-so. A couple of them are just boring. All of them are written to shock yet the brevity of the tales keeps both writer and reader focused. If this was a short story collection, I would rate it a strong three stars.Unfortunately it is not. Palahniuk has fashioned this book into a novel. One clearly modeled after The Tales of The Decameron except as written by a 21th century Marquis De Sade. The 19 protagonists are revealed from the beginning as vicious and stupid and we are never given a reason to care about them. Page after page they make insane and idiotic decisions that have no basis in any logic or reality and no purpose but to shock. Some may say that is the point, the author has created a bizarre and surreal horror setting as an analogy. That's fine but what is the author saying? My conclusion is absolutely nothing. Palahnuik's cynicism is so over the top it destroys any attempt at meaning.Perhaps I don't get "it". Yet anyone who perused my book list knows I'm not easily offended. This is the third book by this author I've read. The only reason I read three is because Pahalnuik is one hell of a writer at least technically. And from the short stories in this book I know he can pack a punch when he wants to. But this will probably the last Palahnuik book I will subject myself to.

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