In 2005 I picked this book up and fell in love with reading again.
I had been raised to read alot, fiction or non fiction, it didn’t matter. I read before going to bed all the way up to university. Then I stopped, I just couldn’t find anything that held my interest. Until I began reading Chuck. By the time Haunted had released, he was already established, so I was late to the game. I found out later that one of my favourite movies, Fight Club, was actually based on a novel by him (I now realize that it is clearly stated in the opening credits of the movie). What drew me to the book was the cover, so I sat at the store and decided to skim.
I realized that it was built as an anthology of twisted, dark, macabre stories all wrapped around a central mystery. Brendan Whittier has gathered a group of people to join him at an exclusive writer’s retreat. As they make their way to this retreat, and what happens over the course of the retreat is interspersed with stories recited by each character in the book. Each story actually gives insight into each characters morbid past.
An abnormally skinny man who lost part of his lower intestine in a masturbation accident
A reporter who murders a former child star in order to frame him for collecting child pornography, so that he can write a Pulitzer Prize winning article about it.
A member of the Chewlah, a tribe of people who are, according to local rumor, able to transform into Sasquatches.
A former employee of the White River Lodge who lost her lips to frostbite while trying to save someone from an accident at the hot springs nearby. These are a few of many characters. The stories get crazier as the main mystery surrounding the writers retreat comes to a conclusion.
When I finished this book, I immediately went out and bought every work he had written. His style of writing is so in your face and distgusting, but it feels almost conversational. His themes are universal, even if his characters are usuallly sitting at the bottom rung of the moral ladder. This is not for everyone, I have tried to get people to read Chuck, many cannot get past his need to shock, it’s a turn off and often offensive. I always recommend “Haunted” to test first time readers. The threshold is early in the book, a story called “Guts”, if you can handle that story, you can handle Haunted and you can handle Chuck.
He made me love to read again