Haunted: A Novel in Stories
by Chuck Palahniuk
The one-star and five-star reviews of this book actually say the same thing — it’s absolutely disgusting and disturbing. A group of would-be writers answers an advertisement for a three-month writing retreat. When the attendees arrive, they’re locked in an old-theater, with dwindling supplies.
The novel is actually a series of short stories strung together under the artifice of the captives telling tales, and the tales become more horrifying and grotesque as the situation deteriorates. A situation made worse by the participants themselves, as they begin to practice murder and self-mutilation in the belief they are in some kind of reality show. It is said that when Palahniuk read the first tale “Guts” on book tour, people were fainting left and right.
The reader is freaked out, not just by the graphic violence and unnerving supernatural bits — but also, the uncomfortable questions about what people will do for fame.