Tell-All Hardcover – 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
TELL-ALL has been likened by someone as a cross between Page Six and Sunset Boulevard. Palahniuk takes on celebrity - how it is perceived, what it is. He gives us a cast of multitudes headed by Katherine Kenton, an aging but not about to give up movie star and Hazie Coogan who has long been her servant, protector, flunky, and major-domo seeing to whatever Miss Kathie needs through her numerous love affairs, and major movie moments. The alcohol imbibing sexually rapacious star is adored by her public who see only the image presented to them.
Webster Carlton Westward III, one more suitor, soon appears and has little trouble in winning over Miss Kathie but he has an agenda of his own. He has already penned a tell-all memoir of their affair with a fatally unhappy ending. Another challenge for Hazie
Rife with gossip and enough name dropping to satisfy the most celebrity hungry fan TELL-ALL is a riff on old Hollywood. It's pure Palahniuk.
- Gail Cooke
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
There's just no other possible explanation. Tell-All cannot be written by the same Chuck Palahniuk who wrote the brilliant novels Fight Club, Choke, and Survivor. Alien abduction, demonic possession, mind control, something. Anything. I refuse to accept depreciation of creativity and talent as a viable option.
That being said, let me explain.
- There's a somewhat amusing span of three pages that describes Katherine's attempt at adoption. Matching the correct shade of pink paint to a baby's skin is of the utmost importance.
- Occasionally, the shock and awe Palahniuk loves so much is relevant and entertaining (although often overdone).
- It's quite short, at less than 200 pages.
Consider Yourself Warned:
- The bolded name-droppings are annoying; fine, I get it, Hollywood revolves around brands and people.
- Speaking of unnecessary, the breaking down of the text into acts and scenes is a weak and unoriginal device. The narrator rhetorically asking me if breaking down the fourth wall is acceptable whenever I'm supposedly being made privy to some great piece of information is also ineffective.
- There is nothing prolific about exaggerated, blatant irony. Don't even try to pull the "the obvious irony is ironic" excuse.
- The characters are flat, uninteresting, and generic.
- The storyline is predictable, and in all honesty, pretty uneventful.
- Palahniuk should be beyond recycling, already having done the "poking fun at guilty pleasures" genre with Haunted, where he spoofs reality television.
Biographies are not literature. When I read fiction I want something to hold on to; characters, plot, themes, or great writing. Unfortunately, Tell-All fails to provide.
And, to whoever is holding Chuck hostage, please let us know the ransom so we can take up a collection (middle age, collection agencies, or demanding publishers need not apply).
I believe that fans need to realize that Chuck will probably never write another Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, Lullaby, or Survivor. The reason I believe the latter is that the basis for those books were in his head for decades. He is now publishing a book once a year, but it takes time for the book to be edited, published, distributed, etc. My point is that how much actual time is he putting into his newer novels? Personally, I feel very little, and it shows in certain books.
Also, people need to realize that Chuck's style has completely changed starting around Haunted. At his point in his career we all know what we are going to get American satire. Personally, I continue to read to see how he delivers his message. I agree with another reviewer that Chuck is trying to experiment with different styles of writing. In Haunted each chapter had a poem about a character, followed by their back story, then interwoven into the actual story. There was no actual narrator in Rant, instead it was a collection of people giving telling their stories of the main character (IMO this is his most underrated book, and is in my Top 3). Snuff, didnt Chuck just use this style of story telling in Rant? Pygmy, I will say that it took me a while to get use to the style of writing, but once you get use the style of writing the book is a piece of art.
Tell All seems to be written as a screenplay. This is the first time that I have ever been bored reading one of his books. For those who thought Pygmy was a tough read, Tell All is a lot harder. Also, I feel Chuck really messed up by using names in the bold face that most generations have no idea who they are.
In conclusion, if you have never read Chuck, then this should not be the first book of his you read. For all the die hard Chuck fans out there, this book is terrible, and I have never said that about any of his books. I am guessing that since he is putting out a book a year he might be under some type of contract. However, if he is not, then he needs to take some time off, and regroup. I know that he will never write material like he did in the beginning, but not to long ago he wrote Rant, which shows he still has something left.
Chuck's got a niche carved out, and his literary hook carves it. In Survivor it is cleaning tips. In Pygmy it is crazy martial arts moves. In Lullaby it's ads in the paper and counting one, counting two, counting three...
This time the hook is a tool used by screenwriters, a bold application to names, places, objects. The problem is that it's self-referentially described as a name-dropping form of Tourette's Syndrome. It doesn't work. A complete distraction that glazed my eyes over with an insatiable desire to nap. To hibernate. To skip sentences. It is literally a reason to skip entire paragraphs, inserted for no other reason than to show of the efforts of extensive research. For less than a 200-page book, it took me an eternity to read.
I'm a big fan of Chuck, and I don't mind the change, the risk, but this is a clear misfire.
First of all, the damn name-dropping device. Every time Palahniuk drops a name, Hollywood-style, it is in bold type, and it is a huge visual distractor, and I was just unspeakably annoyed with it after the first chapter, when it was clear that he was going to keep doing this for the entire book. Other satire writers (Buckley springs to mind) have skewered Hollywood attitudes without trying such a dud of a trick. Secondly, the breakup of chapters into acts and scenes was pretty lame. Thirdly, I just couldn't get into the characters.
I think that somehow Palahniuk got caught up in the *idea* of this book, like the bold font and the twee chapter breaks, and tried to force the rest of it to follow. And it just doesn't work. I guess every writer needs a dud of a book, and this is Palahniuk's. There are a few funny moments, but for the most part everything rings just a bit false. Now that he has this out of his system, hopefully he can get back to writing great humor.