It seems absurd today, but when Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho" was published in 1991, some stores kept it behind the registers, what with the novel's unique uses of a Habitrail and all. Yet there's been nary a peep over Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff," which also is a good candidate for brown-bagging, and elicits the same kind of "I can't believe he just wrote that sentence" reactions.
Here's why: "Snuff" is a novel set in a porno movie's green room, where exactly 600 men wait their turn for a few minutes of, um, "screen time" with the flick's aged starlet, Cassie Wright, hoping for one final "? and record-breaking "? hurrah.
It's told from the alternating-chapters perspective of three of those ready-and-willing volunteers: "Mr. 600," who's an over-the-hill has-been in the porn world himself and a former offscreen lover of Ms. Wright; "Mr. 137," a washed-up TV star looking for a publicity blip; and "Mr. 72," a young man whose looks resemble his impending co-star "¦ because he believes he is her child, whom she gave up for adoption as an infant.
Clearly, such a plot divides audiences, who will decide whether to read it or not just based on that. But Palahniuk being Palahniuk (best known for "Fight Club," "Choke" and "Haunted"), he divides readers even further, presenting one salacious situation or conversation after another, as if almost daring them to continue. Like horny teenage boys, there's a ton of talk about sex, but very little of the actual deed. Shock value abounds, but at least the author places a unique story "? admit it: You've read nothing like this before "? behind it all.
You may not care about any of the characters "? in fact, all are likely to repel you "? but "Snuff" is too odd, too outlandish, to give up just for that.