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Survivor Hardcover – Feb 2 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; American First edition (Feb. 2 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393047024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393047028
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 3.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 297 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #561,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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

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.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Survivor is another novel in the stream of novels that continue to redefine modern literature. It centers around a character who speaks out to the black box about his life as the plane he is in begins to fuel out in the sky and slowly begins it's plummet into the ocean. He is the hotel maid that cleans up your mess, or the janitor you ignore in your workplace. The sort of faceless every day man who you rely on to make your star bucks coffee and then is forgotten about as soon as you pull the debit card out from the slot. Yet without him your modern comforts quickly fall apart. He talks about his life and tries to find meaning in his upbringing and exposure to a cold world. A great read that will leave you thinking about and maybe even challenge your views on modern unconnected living.
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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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One of the things I like most about Mr. Palahniuk is that he can write about a topic using fewer words than most authors do, and yet he can still get his point across ten times as effectively. Like in all of his other books, you will notice his... "curtness" in Survivor; and because of this, the book is a little on the short side (around 300 pages, one could read it in an afternoon). To many this is a bad thing, but it's really such an enjoyable book that length isn't of any importance. If you're interested in the sheer girth of a book rather than the quality of the materials, I'd suggest that you pick up a telephone book instead. If you're still interested: Keep reading...
Survivor is by far my favorite book by the author, and is possibly even my favorite novel, period. Some people might consider it "graphic" at times, so if you're worried about that, I'd suggest you pick up a good Chicken-Soup-For-the-Whatever book. If you're still interested: Check it out, it's a good read- and hey, if you don't like it, you can send your copy to me.
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If you are looking for a quick and superficially engaging book that makes you think you're thinking more than it actually makes you think, Survivor is the book for you. I read all 304 pages in just a few hours and its pseudo-profundity briefly made me feel like an intellectual giant. Yet, the more I reflected, the more the book struck me as choppily written, obtusely minimalist, and with a message that's trite and ironically reeks of the consumer culture it attempts to lampoon. The first half is relatively strong because, in describing the day-to-day tedium of its likeable central character, Palahniuk's prose is fully in sync with the rhythmic, compulsive thrills that lonely people create to make life momentarily bearable. Titular survivor and narrator, Tender Branson is the quintessential Palahniuk misanthrope, jittered as much by psychological hangups as the debasing consumer culture. When he's drawn out of his obsessions and embarks on a real romance wrapped in morbid sexuality and psychic foreboding, his struggle for connection feels organic and palpable. The second half however doubles over on such promise, and instead taps into the trite satire that threatens the emotional balance of the first half. Every dangerously stupid Gen X aphorism, so sparsely sprinkled throughout the first half, nascently comes into full offensive bloom, accompanying equally cliche narrative plot devices: the climactic [emotional] encounter; the murderous brother; the twisty realization of fate. Palahniuk loses his humanity and turns a story underscored with human despair into a high-octane exercise in fame-sucks banality as our hero inexplicably degenerates into a grotesque tele-evangelist. None of the satiric gags are funny because they are just that: gags- neither stemming from an emotional or intellectual place. I enjoyed reading Survivor on the basis that it's rarely boring and easy-to-swallow. I guess one could say the problem occurs in the digestion.
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