If his sentences are occasionally rough-hewn and his endings a bit too fantastical, so be it. No other contemporary writer makes raging against the machine so compulsively readable…To the last page, Snuff is a moralistic work, but not in the way of tedious, partisan bickering about the dangers of porn. Snuff is, instead, a meditation on immortality, ambition, the lure of risk, the need for stability and, ultimately, on leaving a legacy. The question isn't why Palahniuk would take on such an off-putting subject, but rather, what took him so long. Chuck and porn. Porn and Chuckthe two go together like fists and brass knuckles, moth and flame: a fatalistic coupling that happens to be, also, a perfect match.
The Washington Post
Palahniuk's audacious ninth novel tells the story of Cassie Wright, an aging porn queen who intends to put an exclamation point on her career by having sex with 600 men in one day on film. The story begins with Mr. 600-the pornosaur who introduced Cassie to the business-as he describes the other 599 "actors" awaiting their moment on screen. The perspective then shifts to Mr. 72, an adopted Midwestern 20-something who is one of the many young men claiming to be Cassie's long-lost son. Mr. 137, a has-been television star hoping to revive his career, wants to ask Cassie's hand in marriage so that the two can star in a reality TV show. But for a novel centered around a gargantuan gangbang, there's surprisingly little action; the small amount of narrative movement takes place backstage, where the characters attempt to get a sense of one another while waiting for their number to be called. There are sharp moments when Palahniuk compassionately and candidly examines the flesh-on-film industry, but mostly this reads like a cross between the Spice Channel and Days of Our Lives. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Six hundred men in undershorts, gooey with bronzer and barbecue-chip residue, wait for a tumble with an aging porn actress attempting to set the record for the greatest number of sex acts in a single film-a film she may not survive. Only Palahniuk (Rant) would devise this off-putting premise; only he, too, could manage to build it into an entertaining and suspenseful dark comedy. The story is told from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, and the female event coordinator, all of whom have hidden agendas and secret ties to the performer upstairs. Don't expect titillation here: every detail underlines the degradations of sexual obsession and the pornography industry. But this quick read brims with fascinating trivia about the film industry's dirty secrets-e.g., the dangers some entertainers are willing to risk for fame. Snuffisn't for everyone, perhaps also not for every library, but readers who can stomach its subject matter will find striking characters, sharp parody, and a tight plot. The ending, with its raunchy Shakespearean twist, stretches believability but makes its symbolic point. Highly recommended for mature readers; expect high demand from Palahniuk fans. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
The notorious novelist's excursion into the world of porn might well be his most moralistic work to date. After reading the latest from Palahniuk (Rant, 2007, etc.), it might be difficult for anyone to become aroused from watching pornography or find any redeeming social value in it. The plot concerns an attempt by an aged porn queen, 20 years past her popular prime, to set a world record for most sexual partners in a single film. Like Rant, this novel is written from multiple narrative perspectives. At the beginning, the men who have enlisted to service Cassie Wright have numbers rather than names, though each of the narrators reveals some surprises about themselves and their relationship with (and attraction to) the actress. Mr. 600 is a veteran contemporary of Ms. Wright, perhaps reuniting for old time's sake. Mr. 137 is a recognized actor who lost his TV series under scandalous circumstances. Mr. 72, a hopeless romantic who brings flowers to the shoot, is young enough to be Cassie's son. Mediating among the trans-generational cast is the fourth narrator, Shelia, who has forged a bond with the actress and serves as the "wrangler" on the shoot. Beyond the usual associations of sex and death, the novel takes its title from the suspicion that no woman could survive such an exhaustive sexual grind. In fact, committing sexual suicide might well be Cassie's goal, though her perspective is generally missing from the novel. Real-time sex is mostly missing as well, with the men spending plenty of time watching her greatest hits from decades past on monitors, awaiting their turn. Bodies and their functions throughout the novel are grotesque rather than titillating, though the author has greatsport inventing porn-film titles (To Drill a Mockingbird, Chitty Chitty Gang Bang). The sordidness might appeal to the Palahniuk's cult following, but it won't extend it.
"Palahniuk compassionately and candidly examines the flesh-on-film industry." Publishers Weekly