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Diary: A Novel [Paperback]

Chuck Palahniuk
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 14 2004
Misty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.

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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.

From Booklist

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tell-all March 19 2006
Format:Paperback
This is my second Chuck Palahniuk book - and it certainly won't be my last. I first read "Survivor" and couldn't stop at just one! Chuck Palahniuk is by far one of the most original and engaging writers I have come across. He'll leave you guessing and wondering until the end; he ensures a good page turner. In addition, he seems extremely intelligent. You can tell he knows what he's talking about in his books. His details are clear and his writing style is unique, but very good. Days after I'm still reciting lines from "Diary" in my head... it gets stuck!
Do yourself a favor and read some Chuck.
Also very highly recommended: KATZENJAMMER by Jackson McCrae and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Burroughs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where do you get inspiration? Sept. 17 2003
Format:Hardcover
"I loved you a lot more when you were dead." This is what a mother tells her daughter in Diary. It is completely in keeping with Mr. Palahniuk's tone which is dark, with occasional flurries of pessimism.
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).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Immediately grabs you and pulls you in! March 15 2012
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. Chuck Palahniuk's protagonist Misty writes in a diary to her comatose husband Peter, detailing their lives and the current happenings on Waytansea Island in case he comes around.

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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Palahniuk---very good March 9 2006
Format:Paperback
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 Jackson McCrae's "Katzenjammer" with its Palahniuk-like themes and great writing style. Leaving his usual urban theme, Palahniuk gives us a whole new world to explore with his macabre vision. Definitely recommended. Compared to other books by Palahniuk, this one did not really have those unexpected twists where you had to put the book down and think everything you've read over; but it had some amazing analysis of human nature and life in general, and the things we do. Read this book and see how much of your own diary is written on your hands and face.
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2.0 out of 5 stars My least favorite Palahniuk book.... May 28 2004
By Eric
Format:Hardcover
At first I was eager to read Diary, so when I got the chance, I was HUGELY disappointed. Diary is about a woman named Misty who is a artist, and who draws houses and people who see her work, they tell her that is their house. Then she get's calls about how their kitchen is missing, and how their closets are missing. Very strange. The book just keeps on more disappointing and more DISAPPOINTING! With the constant dialogue, I just more and more disquisted with this novel.
The reason I gave the book 2 stars because personally have read all of Palahniuk's work, this was not his best effort. If you want to read someone good by Palahniuk, then read Fight Club or even his travel book Fugitives and Refugges. Sorry Chuck, this book was not for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Palanhiuk's Best May 6 2004
Format:Hardcover
I just finished "Diary" today, and I must say that I really enjoyed it. This is perhaps his best work since Invisible Monsters. I was a bit skeptical at first, after being dissapointed with Lullaby. This book is a bit different, but in many ways it is still trademark Chuck.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Direction for Palahniuk -- But Still Good:
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 more
Published on May 3 2005 by Bennie Walkey (Marietta, GA)
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fulfilling Departure
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 more
Published on Feb. 22 2005
2.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
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 more
Published on July 15 2004 by Jason Nelson
4.0 out of 5 stars 1st Chuck Book - Very Good
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 more
Published on July 13 2004 by "whosthemaniam"
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Same old tortured greatness
If you're looking for something new from Chuck Palahniuk, you probably won't find it here. This book offers the same grim, postmodern perspective all of his earlier books tout. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by D. Hubbard
4.0 out of 5 stars great discovery
It was my first book by Chuk Palahniuk, and I just could not put it away. I have never even heard about the author before. One of my patients told me about him. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by msafronova
4.0 out of 5 stars "Diary" - A review
I am quite surprised to see so many bad reviews for this novel. This, by far, was my favourite Palahniuk novel. Read more
Published on June 25 2004 by Jane Doe
2.0 out of 5 stars Good writing, poor plot
As a big fan of Mr. Palahniuk, I was sadly dissapointed with Diary. To me, it was worth buying and reading since he is my favorite author, but I wouldn't recommend it to those who... Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by M. Rinehart
1.0 out of 5 stars The Magic is gone....
Like all the other fans, I have read every other Chuck novel, and liked them, each in their own way (Invisible Monsters is by far my favorite). Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by Christopher Smith
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