by Chuck Palahniuk
"Number one best selling author Chuck Palahniuk presents Pygmy, a comedic and satirical take on American xenophobia. As part of a massive terrorist plot, a handful of young adults head to the Midwestern United States disguised as foreign exchange students. Palahniuk focuses on one of the young terrorists, Pygmy, who chronicles his time in the American Midwest as he and others plan a horrific, spiteful act." (From the CD container.)
The broken English in which the entire book is written actually made it funnier than it would have been otherwise and added a layer of emotion to the serious parts that may have ended up lacking impact. Telling the experiences of Operative Me in straight-up, easily coherent language would have sounded just plain stupid for the most part. Kudos to Palahniuk for realizing that and finding new ways to introduce juvenile comedy and general crudity into our reading. At the same time, the bizarre presentation effectively exposes the good, the bad, the humor and the hypocrisy in some of Western culture's most closely held customs, beliefs and institutions and in human eccentricities. The reader must, however, wade through a lot of Palahniuk's patented disturbing weirdness to get to the heart of the matter.
If you've never read a Chuck Palahniuk novel, I wouldn't start here. I'm thinking there are not going to be many readers who aren't already big fans of his literary shock jock ways who are going to go the distance with this offering. The ones that do will be rewarded with the sort of oddly touching ending we've come to expect and that usual post-Palahniuk uneasy feeling of suspecting you shouldn't have liked it as much as you did if you don't want to be hauled off to the psychologist for some sorely-needed analysis.
The curious can read a PDF of the first chapter of Pygmy on Amazon. Additional Books 'N Border Collies posts about Palahniuk books can be found here.
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NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!