From Publishers Weekly
With a first page that captures the reader hook, line and sinker, Palahniuk (Choke; Lullaby) plunges into the odd predicament of Waytansea Island resident and ex-art student Misty Marie Kleinman, whose husband, Peter, lies comatose in a hospital bed after a suicide attempt. Rooms in summer houses on the mainland that Peter has remodeled start to mysteriously disappear-"The man calling from Long Beach, he says his bathroom is missing"-and Misty, with the help of graphologist Angel Delaporte, discovers that crude and prophetic messages are scrawled across the walls and furniture of the blocked-off chambers. In her new world, where every day is "another longest day of the year," Misty suffers from mysterious physical ailments, which only go away while she is drawing or painting. Her doctor, 12-year-old daughter and mother-in-law, instead of worrying about her health, press her to paint more and more, hinting that her art will save exclusive Waytansea Island from being overrun by tourists. In the meantime, Misty is finding secret messages written under tables and in library books from past island artists issuing bold but vague warnings. With new and changing versions of reality at every turn, the theme of the "tortured artist" is taken to a new level and "everything is important. Every detail. We just don't know why, yet." The novel is something of a departure for Palahniuk, who eschews his blighted urban settings for a sinister resort island, but his catchy, jarring prose, cryptic pronouncements and baroque flights of imagination are instantly recognizable, and his sharp, bizarre meditations on the artistic process make this twisted tale one of his most memorable works to date.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Palahniuk's sixth novel takes the form of a so-called coma diary written for Peter Wilmot, who is comatose after a running-car-in-garage suicide attempt (he started with the gas tank half-empty, proving his inability to do anything well). While Peter wastes away in a hospital, his family and friends waste away on Waytansea Island ("Everyone's in their own personal coma," Palahniuk writes with his trademark optimism). Peter's art-school-prodigy-turned-bitter-waitress wife, Misty, can't afford the family mansion anymore. Tourists have overrun the whole island, and the old-money families have spent all of their old money. But no one on the island seems to care about their community-wide coma. They just want Misty to paint
. She refuses--until she begins to suffer tortuous headaches that only abate when she paints. The islanders seem suspiciously keen on seeing Misty's work continue, and the only way to keep her painting is to keep her miserable. Palahniuk's fans haven't seen plot twists this good since Fight Club
, but this book lacks the manic humor that makes his better novels so engrossing. The fantastically grotesque premise propels the story, but the writing lacks the satirical precision that made Palahniuk a hero to young nihilists everywhere (see his take on the travel book, reviewed on p.1858). Instead, it often reads like a self-indulgent complaint about the terrible suffering of artists. Still, excellent plotting and a compelling allegory will satisfy the majority of Palahniukites. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved