Diary: A Novel Paperback – Sep 14 2004
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story starts off being a dark comedy, with tragic reflections on inspiration, art and hope dried up. Art is the focus of the main character, and clearly, Chuck has done his homework. As an artist, I found Chuck's statements about art to be laugh out loud funny, insightful, cynical, and well...downright realistic. There are few likeable characters in this book, aside from the main character (who is only likeable in that readers will feel sorry for her and be rooting for her to overcome circumstances), who is the "author" of the diary. As you dig deeper into Diary, you will find that these unlikeable characters are downright evil, as the story cascades into a bizarre, twisted, and frightening close.
Diary continues in the tradition of Lullaby - novels that are surreal and could be shelved in the "horror" section. An important bit of information to know is that the format of this book is a "coma diary" written by a woman to her husband. It is NOT a book written in the second-person, despite the liberal use of the word "you."
The book starts like all of Mr. Palahniuk's books do, with plenty of interesting trivia. In this case it's about art history, human anatomy, and graphology. I won't go into to the plot of the novel - which is impossible to describe - but it fits into the category of "one sane person in a town full of crazies."
The best part about reading a Palahniuk novel isn't the story, but all the interesting asides and digressions along the way. There are plenty of them here to keep the reader interested. (BTW, look underneath the dust cover).
From my personal favorate writer and my own personal savior, Chuck Palahniuk, comes his sixth novel. Although I wouldn't consider this his finest by a mile, it's still a very well-crafted and intriguing book. The plot follows a middle-aged woman who after the failed suicide attempt and coma of her husband, must work tables to support her daughter and mother-in-law. Strangely enough she keeps getting calls from people whose vacation homes have been altered by her husband. These home are missing rooms, blocked off, hidden. When she goes to investigate, these rooms are filled with startling messages from her husband. The island she so peacefully lives on also starts to change and her mother-in-law and daughter both seem to be acting very suspicious.
The novel is written in a very unique way also. It's written in the form of a coma diary. A diary from the main character to her husband for him to read if he ever comes out of his coma. Like all Palahniuk novels, Diary is written in a very dark mood. I did feel that the novel was a little "lighter" than most his work. Though still very dark. The one thing that attracts me to Palahniuk's work is that he is very insightful on our society. Many times while reading one of his novels including Diary, I find myself reading a phrase again, awed at the substance that I'm taking in.
If your a Palahniuk fan, it's safe to say you won't be disappointed with Diary. It's definately a different approach by him, but still very much his style. I felt it seemed somewhat slow in the beginning of the book through the first several chapters, this is just to build-up the plot though.Read more ›
Do yourself a favor and read some Chuck.
Also very highly recommended: KATZENJAMMER by Jackson McCrae and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Burroughs.
Peter's coma is the result of a failed suicide attempt. While he is in the coma Misty learns of hidden rooms in the homes he has recently renovated. Each of the rooms is covered with graffiti of Peter's anger and warnings to the inhabitants. She is called to each home and threatened with lawsuits by the owners. At the first of these occurrences Misty meets a fellow named Angel who seems to take an interest in the graffiti and ensconcing himself into Misty's life.
Soon strange things begin to happen to Misty, she begins having horrible headaches and finds herself in a trance-like state with the only thought in her mind being painting. She is pushed by her mother-in-law, daughter and the residents of the island to paint every time she is in their presence. She is compelled to pick up her paintbrushes and spends weeks locked in an attic room of the Island's historic hotel painting with such a fervour she forgoes eating and wears a catheter so she won't have to leave her work. Once she is done she has created 100 paintings that are all part of a large painting she has never seen that is to be revealed in an exhibit for the summer people which flock to the island.
With the help of Angel, Misty uncovers a tradition to replenish Waytansea's wealth by bringing a female artist destined for greatness to the island by marriage to one of their sons. The son gives his life as a sacrifice which is the catalyst for the process to begin.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I've read most of Chuck Palahniuk's books, and they're typically hit or miss. By the time you reach the end, your either extremely satisfied or a little disappointed. Read morePublished 17 months ago by J Fisher
Diary is an incredibly entertaining, yet morbid, novel to read. I was pulled in right away and didn't put the novel down until I was finished with it, the way I was when I read... Read morePublished on March 9 2006 by Andy Birdwell
Do you ever get the feeling that you have been in a certain situation before? Have you ever learned something so quickly and easily that it seemed like you were remembering it, not... Read morePublished on May 3 2005 by Bennie Walkey (Marietta, GA)
Diary is a departure for Chuck Palahniuk. Best known for his bleak urban dramas, Palahniuk has set out to capture the mindset of a Coma Diary of a woman who's husband lies... Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2005
First off, I consider myself a Chuck Palahniuk fan and have read all of his previous novels. Therefore, I was rather excited to start reading this one. Read morePublished on July 14 2004 by Jason Nelson
No doubt, much like many people here, I loved Fight Club (the movie) and at some point noticed it was also book (a short one at that). Read morePublished on July 13 2004
Like all of Chuck Palanuik's books, this is an excellent and quirky story. I recommned reading everything he's written!!Published on July 12 2004