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Survivor [Paperback]

Chuck Palahniuk
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 30 2010
Tender Branson last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult is dictating his life story into Flight 2039 s recorder. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah. Unpredictable and unforgettable, Survivor is Chuck Palahniuk at his deadpan peak: a mesmerizing, unnerving, and hilarious satire on the wages of fame and the bedrock lunacy of the modern world."

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From Amazon

Some say that the apocalypse swiftly approacheth, but that simply ain't so according to Chuck Palahniuk. Oh no. It's already here, living in the head of the guy who just crossed the street in front of you, or maybe even closer than that. We saw these possibilities get played out in the author's bloodsporting-anarchist-yuppie shocker of a first novel, Fight Club. Now, in Survivor, his second and newest, the concern is more for the origin of the malaise. Starting at chapter 47 and screaming toward ground zero, Palahniuk hurls the reader back to the beginning in a breathless search for where it all went wrong. This time out, the author's protagonist is self-made, self-ruined mogul-messiah Tender Branson, the sole passenger of a jet moments away from slamming first into the Australian outback and then into oblivion. All that will be left, Branson assures us with a tone bordering on relief, is his life story, from its Amish-on-acid cult beginnings to its televangelist-huckster end. All of this courtesy of the plane's flight recorder.

Speaking of little black boxes, Skinnerians would have a field day with the presenting behavior of the folks who make up Palahniuk's world. They pretend they're suicide hotline operators for fun. They eat lobster before it's quite... done. They dance in morgues. The Cleavers they are not. Scary as they might be, these characters are ultimately more scared of themselves than you are, and that's what makes them so fascinating. In the wee hours and on lonely highways, they exist in a perpetual twilight, caught between the horror of the present and the dread of the unknown. With only two novels under his belt, Chuck Palahniuk is well on his way to becoming an expert at shining a light on these shadowy creatures. --Bob Michaels --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The rise and fall of a media-made messiah is the subject of Palahniuk's impressive second novel (after the well-received Fight Club), a wryly mannered commentary on the excesses of pop culture that tracks the 15 minutes of fame of the lone living member of a suicide cult. Tender Branson, aged 33, has commandeered a Boeing 747, emptied of passengers, in order to tell his story to the "black box" while flying randomly until the plane runs out of gas and crashes. Branson relates in his long flashback the vicissitudes of his life: a member of the repressive Creedish Death Cult, supposedly founded by a splinter group of Millerites in 1860, he is hired out as a domestic servant who must dedicate his earnings to the cult. Despite his humble beginnings, Branson finds himself on the edge of fame and fortune when the cult members begin their suicide binge, and he keeps himself on the media radar by using the psychic dreams of his potential romantic interest, Fertility Hollis, in which the girl accurately predicts a series of strange disasters. After a brief period at the top of the freak-show heap, Branson succumbs to the excesses of his trade when his agent mysteriously dies at the Super Bowl as Branson predicts the outcome of the game at half-time, simultaneously triggering a riot and turning him into a murder suspect. Branson's spookily matter of fact account of his bizarre experiences does not excite tension until the narrative is well under way, but the novel picks up momentum during the homestretch when Branson goes on the lam with Fertility and his murderous brother Adam, and the story steamrolls toward its nightmarish climax. Palahniuk's DeLilloesque cultural witticisms and his satirical take on the culture of instant celebrity invest the narrative with a dark humor that does not quite overcome its lack of a coherent plot. Agent, Edward Hibbert. (Feb.) FYI: Fight Club is being filmed by David Fincher.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book! Jan. 16 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of my favorites by Palahniuk after Fight Club.
Amazingly written, but not for those without a bit of a dark sense of humor!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Palahniuk's BEST book! June 5 2005
I've read both Choke and Fight Club, in that order, and I have to say, Survivor beats them both outright. You don't read this book, you hop on and ride the madness until you get off, either satisfied or nauseous, depending on your personality.
This book lets you know the protagonist is doomed from the very beginning. It opens from Flight 2039, about to crash in the Australian outback, with only one person remaining aboard: Tender Branson. He tells his story to the black box on board with him, and to us, as the chapter numbers count down. Tender is a survivor of the Creedish "death cult", who were supposedly religious fanatics who sold their children for labor, and then committed mass suicide when the authorities came to intervene. We weave through his life, seventeen to late thirties. It begins with him working as cleaning houses of the wealthy, keeping quiet about disturbing secrets of his employers. He steals fake flowers from graveyards, runs a help hotline telling everyone calling to kill themselves, and is visited by a social worker. He ends up a media superstar with a body that's half surgically enhanced, blurred by hundreds of combinations of drugs. And that's the mild stuff.
Chuck Palahniuk fills his books with frightening, little known trivia about the real world. How to get blood stains out of fur, how to scam Ronald McDonald Houses, how to get drugs from veterinarians. He then surrounds these facts with his fiction, making the story seem more real and more disturbing.
Survivor is completely unpredictable, unique, and darkly hilarious. I'll say this right now: I think it's brilliant. The insights and food for thought it provides make me laugh aloud and chill me. Palahniuk comments on society, he mocks society, without preaching once.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The guy just can't miss March 10 2006
I stumbled on SURVIVOR after a friend left the book at my house one afternoon. After reading this book, a(nother) Palahniuk addict was born. The only other author I’ve done this with was Jackson McCrae—think, his KATZENJAMMER which is somewhat Palahniuk-like. I was so intrigued by the twisted language and oddly found knowledge, I loved it (SURVIVOR). I couldn't take my eyes off the book, I'm sure it took me all of 2 days to read through the unfortunate but entertaining life of Creedish Death Cult 'Survivor' Tender Branson. I would suggest this book to anyone, and definitely any other of Palahniuk's books.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I survived this garbage... Sept. 16 2011
I have read a lot of books and a lot of Chuck's books and I have never come across anything so over hyped. This book is aweful, don't waste you time or money. Boring, so boring... Imagine the movie Kingpin only full of meaningless fill and diatribes, with characters that still don't learn anything from the experience. Someone here said it was better than fight club? Maybe if you don't like fighting? The characters were barely developed, more effort was put into house cleaning tips than plot. This seems like it was a short story expanded out into a waste of my time novel.

The plot isn't even remotely believable and neither is the background story. Cults don't send their members away, and children don't become sexless slaves from being exposed to child birth - chidren havn't always been so sheltered from such things. It's a pathetic foundation for a writter of this supposed calibre.

I have never been this disapointed in a piece of writting.

Don't buy the Raw Shark Texts instead, its hard to put down not hard to pick up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BETTER THAN FIGHT CLUB May 9 2010
I ordered this book off of EBAY because I love it so much and could never find a secondhand copy in any bookstore (as if Chapters is getting any of my money)
I read fight club, invisible monsters and choke and would say the rest could all be skipped. Seriously, invisible monsters was written first and was only printed after fightclub because they thought it wasnt marketable. Choke has some funny parts, but overall doesnt quite make the cut (and the movie is worse) and fight club is one of those rarities where the movie is actually better. In the book they have marla's mother sending her fat in the mail which they make into soap and there is this large ensuing freakout on marla's part.
Now, survivor. I love the bitter way the author writes, I love the plot twists and I even learned how to clean things and remove stains!
Palahniuk's best book, ever.
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By Irv
As far as Palahniuk's books go, I'll say that this is both the best and most accessible to a general audience. The plot, which smacks of that postmodern touch which makes reading early Palahniuk so exciting, will appeal to those are are seriously interested in social justice, aescetic violence and our modern way of living. Critque of materialism also features in the book.
Certainly deserves a wider audience that it has apparently won thus far.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece July 6 2004
It's difficult to follow up a work like Fight Club, but here, Palahniuk shows his prosaic dexterity by weaving the same old concept through a wonderfully different tale.
Tender Branson, the lone survivor of the Creedish cult, comes to terms with his instability as he prepares to crash a jetliner into the Australian outback. In classic Palahniuk style, it's a retrospective tale, adding to the misery and discontent with so much of the character's 20-20 hindsight. It's grim and it's dreary, (right in the same vein as Palahniuks other books) but this one is a masterfully dark story. The plot is winding and often overcomplicated, and in the end is somewhat unfulfilling, but the prosaic style is unparalleled. Another solid literary work.
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