What the heck did I just read.
Seriously. I’d never read one of Palahniuk‘s novels but I’ve heard about them and I’ve seen Fight Club so I felt like I was prepared for Diary. I was wrong.
Before I attempt (stressing attempt) to describe the plot, I should warn you that I’m going to spoil the ending. Normally I try not to straight up ruin it, but for you to understand my reaction it’s a necessary evil.
Supposedly this is the diary (shocker) of Misty, who’s husband Peter is in a coma after a failed suicide attempt. Misty is writing this at the prompting of her mother in law, Grace. Grace insist that Misty can share everything in it with Peter when he wakes up. Misty wanted to be an artist but is currently a waitress as she needs to support her daughter and mother in law.
The first two thirds of the book is an almost unbearable collection of entries made entirely of Misty talking about how awful her life is. She drinks too much, complains about her job as a waitress and isn’t a big fan of her husband. Eventually Misty gets a phone call from a guy named Angel. Angel calls Misty because his kitchen has been closed off by Peter, who was working as a contractor, and when he opened it again there was graffiti all over the walls. We find out that all of the houses Peter recently worked on had the same issue.
I assumed that this book was about being disillusioned and how commercialism killed art (or something) and that’s why it was mostly unbearable to me. I really just wanted to be like “Ok Misty your life sucks, so do something else! Change something! Literally anything, don’t just sit there!” But then it got weird.
Turns out Misty is the reincarnation of an artist who returns to the island every hundred years, and who;s child’s death inspires her to creates 100 pieces of art and then put on a stunning art show. At this art show all the visitors and many of the island inhabitants die. And supposedly all those deaths are what save the island. This is local legend drives everything the town does. And it doesn’t matter what Misty does, she can’t seem to brake this endless loop.
Also, neither her father in law or daughter died, all the houses Peter worked on burn down, and Misty is slowly poisoned by the island’s only doctor. There’s lots of bleeding and ripping of flesh, and Angel gets murdered. I should also mention Peter didn’t try to commit suicide. He was murdered by his own father because he was in love with Angel and was going to leave the island. And you find out most of the insane evil that occurs is due to Misty’s kid.
So that’s a rough time.
Additionally the last page of the book is a letter by a rando, saying she wrote this diary and she hopes Palahniuk will share it with the world in the hopes that someday it’ll save someone.
What the freak frack. I mean, I left out some of the intense philosophical stuff, but seriously. If it was just a novel about how life is the worst when you’re a failure as an artist then fine. It wouldn’t have been great but at least I could have believed it a little bit. But to have realistic and terrible things happen for the most unrealistic reason ever was too much. Maybe the point was to make me think about how people will rationalize anything (as that was repeated millions of times in the book) but that’s too much of a stretch for me. I can see the symbolism but the situation was so outrageous that I didn’t care about what the symbolism meant.
I imagine that I don’t understand or appreciate this sort of satire and that’s why I seem to be the only person who wasn’t a fan. But as I want to be honest I’ll admit I’m disappointed. To conclude the last 50 pages of this book then claim it was social commentary seems like cheating.
I own Choke so I’ll be revisiting ole Chuck eventually, but after this one, it’s going to be awhile.