Tag Archives: Haunted

I Can’t Help You With That Embarrassing Problem, I’m Afraid

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Last month’s Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain was excellent, very fun, and I couldn’t wait  for this month’s. Yesterday’s post was by Miriam Joy at A Farewell To Sanity and before that, Kirsten at Kirsten Writes! Both of whom have written really entertaining posts with some hilarious, and sometimes baffling search terms involved.

So, I am afraid to say that I don’t have nearly as many entertaining search terms. Mostly anyone who finds my blog via a search engine seems to type in entries such as ‘eat sleep write repeat’ or ‘felicity-zara stewart wordpress’, which all in all are pretty likely to redirect here somewhere along the line. Yet because of this, when strange search terms do come along, I tend to notice it quite quickly.

The first strange term was quite an early one, and while it does make sense in context, it’s far more entertaining out of it. One visitor in particular wanted to find details on;

‘Patrick Bateman lifestyle’ 

Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that my blog is a handy all-in-one guide on how to live life as a psychopathic Yuppie who does unmentionable things to women by way of starving rats. But if it was, then I can certainly see why this search would yield results.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), my blog isn’t an all-in-one guide on how to live like a psychopathic Yuppie at all. It is but a humble writing blog, you won’t find that much torture and misogyny here (or at least not intentionally). My apologies to whoever managed to find my blog while obviously searching for something much more visceral, though; I have a feeling that reading about the writing pursuits of a certain 19-year-old aspiring author isn’t exactly what they were going for with that one. This review might prove useful, though.

The next is more than a little odd, and possibly inappropriate, too. Cover your eyes, kiddies;

‘Balls sleeping accidentally exposed’

I …  don’t have anything witty to say about this one off the top of my head, as every time I read it, it seems to make less sense. I just don’t understand this search term.

What I mean to say is; dear visitor, I am very sorry to hear about your embarrassing predicament, even though I can quite honestly say I have never found myself in such a position. This is primarily because I lack male genitalia, but also … well, no, actually, it is just because I’m a girl.

The strangest part about this search term, however, is that I really have no idea how it relates to my blog. I’ve never posted tips on how to avoid this issue, having never suffered from it myself, and in living memory, I’ve never written about anything dealing with it, either. Until today, I can’t even remember whether the word ‘balls’ appears on this blog (maybe in a quote, I’m not sure). Okay, so that book review might have had something to do with it … somewhere along the line? Very, very vaguely connecting point A (the search term) to point B (the review) is the underlining fact that the book in question is ‘about’ the porn industry. That said, I doubt exposure is a worry in said industry. More the whole point.

Next up, we have;

‘Nanowrimo cannibalism’

I swear, you couldn’t make these up.

I mean, what in the heck is NaNoWriMo cannibalism? Oh, yes, today I decided that I was going to live on a healthy, and somewhat sustainable diet of human body parts while writing like a maniac. Is that it? Or … the … you know what? I just can’t get my head around this one at all. It pains me to say this, but I’m not writing about cannibalism for this year’s NaNoWriMo (at least not yet), although I have encountered a few characters who have made cannibalism a part of their lifestyle.

And finally,

‘M love a’

Probably the most baffling one yet. As in, I don’t even have a book review (because, yes, my oddest search terms have all related to my book reviews) to link this one to, or understand what it is that this person was actually trying to ask, let alone what they were trying to find.

Honestly. I don’t think I could even guess at what m loving a actually pertains to, unless it’s some kind of special code, or initials. Could be that ‘Mia love Anthony’ … or ‘meerkat love ants’? Yes. This search term is really that strange to me.

So my take on this? The people who reach my blog via search engine are either psychopaths, people with extremely obtrusive genitals or cannibals.

I also have a feeling that several of my visitors were sorely disappointed when they searched for ‘Jannah Reid’ most likely in the hope of hitting on one of the websites included in the 90% that are porn sites. Don’t ask how I know that. It could be why I’ve been getting some rather strange notifications on my computer as of late, though …

These are probably the most notable results I’ve … well … noticed, but some worthy mentions go to;

‘Where do jackals sleep’ – I couldn’t honestly tell you. I might be able to tell you where they lie, though. My apologies, that was absolutely terrible … this blog isn’t ideal for nature enthusiasts.

‘Hunter S. Thompson sleep’ –   not really sure what they were getting at with this one, not surprised they ended up here, though.

‘Eat write or die’ – well, that’s quite an interesting form of self discipline. I don’t doubt that it gets results.

‘Writing and droning’ – how nice of you to point out that this is what I do most of the time.

‘4 storey freefall’ – something I can help you with, dear visitor! I’m not sure how the 4 storey part relates, though. But if you want to know about someone falling at least 1,000 feet, I’m your girl.

So, there you have it; the weird and sometimes wonderful world of my stats page. As a part of the blog chain this month, a quick NaNoWriMo update;

I hit 50k late on Thursday evening. I’m nowhere near done with my story, though. Actually, I don’t want to be done with it; I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been struggling to even get 14k done over the weekend, but this has much more to do with time than it does my novel. So right now, I’m sitting on 66k and barely halfway through, in love with even the characters who are despicable human beings, and not looking forward to the end because … damn it, I just don’t want to say goodbye. I guess that’s what editing is for, though …

So that’s me punching in and out for the month! I urge you all to check out the following blogs, as they’ll all be coming up with some excellent posts, with far more interesting and amusing search terms than mine, throughout the course of this month!

November 5th —http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com/– Kirsten Writes!

November 6th — http://delorfinde.wordpress.com – A Farewell To Sanity

[You Are Here] November 7th — https://thelitjunkie.wordpress.com – Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat

November 8th — http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com – Embracing Insanity

November 9th — http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com/ – Novel Journeys

November 10th —- http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com/ – Red Herring Online

November 11th — http://taystapeinc.wordpress.com – Tay’s Tape

November 12th — http://herebefaries.wordpress.com/ – The Land of Man-Eating Pixies

November 13th – http://randominmind.wordpress.com – Random On My Mind!

November 14th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/ – This Page Intentionally Left Blank

November 15th — http://herestous.wordpress.com – Here’s To Us

November 16th— http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com –  The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

November 17th — http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com – Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for the next month’s chain)



Filed under Writing & Literature

Book Review: Haunted

Haunted may very well be infamous, or at least, one of its short stories, Guts most assuredly is. If you’ve never heard of Guts, then you most likely won’t want to hear about it, and if you have heard of it, then you’ll know at least a little about its bizarre legacy. The public readings peppered with two or three people fainting during each. Also known as ‘The Guts Effect.’

I powered through Haunted in much the same way as I have powered through all the books I have bought and received in the past few days. It’s difficult to describe exactly what drew me to it in the first place, other than a curiosity instilled by a friend who explained Guts to me before English class last year. I’m still not sure why I didn’t hunt for it to begin with. Maybe I was a little scared of it.

In all honesty, I’m not so sure what I was scared of; Haunted didn’t disappoint, not by a long shot, but I got the sense, before I started reading it on Sunday night, that I would need to prepare myself for the worst. I had the expectation that whatever I had endured while reading American Psycho would pale in comparison to what Haunted was about to put me through. For someone who didn’t entirely know what to expect, I sure had my expectations.

Perhaps it was the reactions of other people that had read this novel that conditioned me; trying not to spoil it for myself, I still wanted to see what others had to say about it on Goodreads and elsewhere on the Internet. The bulk of what I found basically told me that everyone who had read this book was grossed out, with the exception of one or two strong-stomached reviewers. Fair enough. I have a strong stomach, I thought, or at least, I do in most senses. This isn’t something I need to harp on about, of course … I found myself significantly affected by American Psycho mostly for its brutality, so I expected to react in a similar way. I breathed in, out, in, out slowly before reading Guts, made sure I was lying down on the sofa (just in case), pillow behind my head, flicking through the pages with trembling hands. First comes Saint Gut-Free’s poem, and then … I prepare myself for the worst …

It wasn’t Guts that got me, though. Guts, I read through and genuinely wondered what all the fuss had been about. I’ve never tasted calamari in my life. It made me glad I don’t eat corn, though. When you stop and think about it, the scene in itself is horrific enough – if you’ve seen The Final Destination‘s swimming pool scene, you’re halfway there. If you haven’t, I’ll spare you the details; the words ‘pool filter’, ‘intestines’ and ‘prolapse’ should say enough. Maybe I was conditioned, long before reading this, by the tale about the guy who, imitating a Jackass stunt, ended up with a bird scarer attached to his intestines. It’s not as uncommon as it may seem.

Honestly, the two stories I can pinpoint as affecting me most while reading Haunted were Comrade Snarky’s tale, Speaking Bitterness, and The Baroness Frostbite’s Hot Potting, both for very different reasons. It’s difficult to fully explain why without spoiling the book should anyone want to read it, and without revealing rather too much about myself (more than I feel needs to be revealed right here on this blog). So I’ll say this: Speaking Bitterness disturbed me from a personal place, from personal experience. It was, however, a harsh warning, I felt, not so much directed at me, but I took it on. That out of what happened to the characters in this particular short story, a different kind of evil was born. It was a warning to me not to cross the line and become so mistrustful that I end up that way. Hot Potting on the other hand, was something a part of me dreaded reading, after finding out the basis for the story. The term itself yields numerous search results when typed into Google, but the story is based on a true event. This is the most disturbing part of it. It was the imagery, and attention to detail, that had me shaking; the juxtaposition of scientific fact and suffering. Hearing the details of how each condition affects the body, and then seeing the reaction of the person it is happening to. In case the title didn’t give it away, Hot Potting is, essentially, about being boiled alive in a hot spring. Another tale I heard from my friend, although after trying to digest Guts that morning (excuse the pun), this was a little beyond my capacity for fully understanding.

I suppose I should really take the time to explain Haunted’s concept. Seventeen writers answer an advertisement for an Artists’ Retreat, to abandon their lives for three months, leaving behind the distractions of real life to create their magnum opus. Their finest piece of work. There are many references to the Villa Diodati throughout, and rightly so, as the retreat, the old, abandoned theatre, acts as a modern-day equivalent.  Twenty-three short stories and nineteen poems intersperse the main narrative, each of them told by one of the seventeen ‘writers’, as well as the organizer, Mr. Whittier, and his supposed assistant, Mrs. Clark. These stories explain each character’s nickname; each story becomes something of a confession, often referred to as the things the characters cannot tell anybody else, the reasons they want to disappear or the things they have done wrong.

The biggest problem with this retreat, however, is that human nature begins to set in. The writers, instead of, well, writing, each seek to become a martyr in some way or another; they plot to fake their suffering in order to gain celebrity status, telling a story of pain and hardship and getting rich while they do so. Without coordinating their plans for sabotage, however, things quickly begin to unravel.

There’s violence. Blood. Gore, Dismemberment. Cannibalism. All these terrible things that should, in theory, make them so much more loved and respected by the general public. A race develops to see who can become the most dishevelled before they are ‘rescued’. In the first week, every character (with the exception of Whittier and Clark) has managed to lop off some number of fingers and toes, or slit their nostrils, or starve themselves enough to look emaciated (Saint Gut-Free doing so effortlessly due to his six-inch intestine.) The thing that struck me immediately about this was the lengths that people will go to for some form of financial gain, and while there is always the sense that most of this is exaggerated, it’s a jarring thought. If these thoughts weren’t possible, if this was beyond consideration, it wouldn’t have made it into the book. It begs the question: what would you do in that situation? Something I hadn’t been forced to consider since I read Battle Royale.  Would greed get the better of me, to the point that I would be happy to eat the flesh of someone I’d been living with?

It’s thoughts like these that cause Haunted to be … well … haunting. I doubt that this was the initial intention, of course, but they are thoughts that stay in my mind ‘long’ after reading (I finished the book early yesterday morning, instead of taking that jog I promised myself I would), alongside the other, more demure, urge to write my own confession. My own story. A short piece based around something terrible or humiliating I’ve done in the past. The problem is, I’m really not interesting enough to do it. The only thing left is to embellish, though this is something else I feel Palahniuk is getting at. While the stories have their basis in fact, there’s a feeling that each character may be exaggerating the finer points, making their story seem more shocking by comparison, in exactly the same way as they seek to make their suffering more terrible.

Haunted could easily stand alone as a series of short stories, but I don’t feel they would have as much of an impact. I don’t think that reading Ambition and Ritual and Dissertation as stories alone, rather than having the context of the characters being in the retreat, would have made me understand them enough. I know that my mind wouldn’t be buzzing for hours after with thoughts on the true meaning of Whittier’s second story, of what was inside the Nightmare Box (trying to comprehend the explanation given), as well as working to cover everything in my mind. The simple phrases that suddenly have that much more significance by the end. The loose ends that are only tied in the futility of the characters’ actions.

Of course it’s not uncommon for something from the mind of Palahniuk to be thought-provoking; in other respects, his work is what I consider to be white-knuckle, disturbing, genuinely pushing the boundaries of what people are prepared to hear or endure. Just as Palahniuk does this to his readers, his characters within Haunted do this to themselves. The one thing to bear in mind while reading, too, is that if a character did not immediately show their true colours, if we are not immediately aware of the sometimes terrible things they have done in the past, they gradually evolve into beings with much less humanity. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, or perhaps this in itself is a comment on ‘sheep mentality’ – again, forcing me to question, if someone was butchering an unconscious person in front of my eyes, with the intent to cook and eat their flesh, would I do something about it? In some ways, the possibility that nobody decides to do anything can come across as shocking – fortunately, I’ve learned not to expect too much from people.

These scenes are replayed several times over, starting rather early in the novel. Each terrible thing that happens is transformed by the writers, the characters, into something they can utilize. Watching a person die in front of them becomes a protracted hardship that they were forced to endure by Mr. Whittier and Mrs. Clark, whom they dub their ‘devils’, creating scenes of torture that never even existed.

I wasn’t entirely surprised that many reviewers don’t consider this Palahniuk’s strongest work; for me, however, it is a definite favourite. I’ll admit, now, that I found it difficult to get through at times, though these were not the times I expected. I know that a reread is not out of the question, but it isn’t something I feel I’d be forcing, considering that I’m actually quite looking forward to that point in time. The format gripped me as it forced me out of my comfort zone somewhat, the story not being linear due to it being, essentially, a collection of short stories interspersed by a narrative running parallel to it. I didn’t find this immensely hard to follow, if I’m being honest, and didn’t find that the short stories interjected throughout the main narrative detracted from the feel of the book at all; I’m not denying that it may be very easy to get confused if you put this down for, say, a week, and come back to it at some unspecified point, but the format worked well for the amount of time I put into reading this.

Similarly, I don’t regret reading this at all, which is another gripe some reviewers have had. The practice of throwing this book at the wall seems common enough. Putting it down and never revisiting this is another, although Palahniuk actually stated that he wanted to create something ‘you don’t want to keep next to your bed,’ so on this level, mission accomplished. I’m not one of those people, though. Haunted kept me glued to almost the same spot on the sofa for hours on end because I wasn’t about to just let myself forsake it. That would mean giving up. That would mean gambling away half of the experience for the sake of my own sanity (which I honestly don’t think I had much of to begin with), which hardly even seems like a gamble at all. No, Haunted is not Fight Club, just as it isn’t Snuff, either, but this is not a gripe by any means; the wonderful thing about it is that it is a reading experience in its own right, it doesn’t need the acclaim that Fight Club brought about. It stands on its own. My personal opinion is that you don’t need to have read any of Palahniuk’s other works to read Haunted … you just need to be aware of what you’re letting yourself in for.

The Final Summary:

Make sure you haven’t eaten anything before you read Guts, and that you haven’t got something in the oven while reading Hot Potting; you most likely will never look at a bowling ball in the same way again, and will start questioning if everyone with a cold is really carrying a life-threatening disease, but other than that, you’re good to go. Haunted is not for the faint of heart,  the squeamish, the weak of stomach, but it is a worthwhile read if Palahniuk’s work interests you, or if you’re looking for something that will stay with you for a long time. Haunted is the trap door to dark places that Palahniuk wanted it to be, and in this sense, it succeeds on every level … if nothing else, it’s an effective warning to stay away from swimming pool circulation pumps, or at least not to sit on them.

A Few Links:

Haunted at The Cult [official Chuck Palahniuk Website]
‘Guts’ Short Story at The Cult [BE WARNED: not safe for work, school, children, the elderly, the squeamish, or … well, anyone who hasn’t bothered to read this review.]
‘Slumming’ Short Story at Randomhouse Publishing [BE WARNED: not as graphic as the above story, but caution is still advised.]
Haunted on Goodreads 
Haunted on Amazon.com


Filed under Book Reviews

The Reading List #1

Or maybe that should be the first reading list. Or the October reading list. Or the ‘I don’t know how I’m possibly going to afford copies of these books but I’ll do it somehow’ reading list. I should probably add that I’ve been intending to read these books for anything from two to six months, if not more, and yet for some strange reason, I haven’t yet gotten around to it. So without further ado:

Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis

So, July was American Psycho month and August was Lunar Park, but I haven’t been able to shake the fact that I started reading B.E.E’s work in the wrong order. This is mostly due to the fact that the aforementioned novels were the only ones on sale within my price range, and I haven’t placed an order on Amazon since … last July, I believe. Goodreads lists this under ‘Books I never should have read’ and ‘the movie was BETTER than the book’ … but since when has that ever deterred me? If I believed at all in these lists, I wouldn’t even know about Bret Easton Ellis, I’m thinking.  On the other hand, it also appears in such lists as ‘Best existential fiction’ and ‘books you can’t live without’; a confidence boost , I suppose, but I was always going to read it anyway. I’m pretty determined not to ruin this for myself by reading too many reviews about it, or reading too much into it, so I can’t really say much other than I plan to read all of B.E.E’s works before the year is out. Whether or not I sleep after doing so is questionable, but will be well worth it.


Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk

I first heard about Haunted from the same friend who, essentially, introduced me to Fight Club. (I can’t thank him enough for doing that) The infamy of one of its short stories, Guts, speaks for itself, and appears to be something of a precursor for the events to follow, but I’m a little … obsessed with reading more of Haunted, I have to admit. Goodreads will tell you that it is ‘one of the most disturbing books ever written’ and is one of the ‘books that should be made into movies’, but my interest stems from more than just testing my own personal boundaries. In spite of being penned by the same author, I have a distinct feeling that Haunted may be a rather different reading experience than Fight Club was. Oh, and I promise I won’t faint.

The Curse of Lono

The Curse of Lono – Hunter S. Thompson

The first thing I’m going to say? I would gladly shell out £594.99 for a signed copy of The Curse of Lono. I’d spend my entire book allowance on it. I’ve never read it before, so I’m as unprepared as they come, and yet I have the distinct feeling that it’s almost impossible for me to dislike HST’s work. The redundancy, then, of striving to own a copy of this book may seem apparent, but I don’t feel as though I can go without. Unfortunately, I don’t own a comprehensive collection of HST’s writings, but I’m working on it – believe me when I say I’m working on it – and one day I’ll make it happen. As such, there are plenty of other books that might have taken this spot on the list, but I’m more enthusiastic about reading this than, perhaps, any other book here, and the only reason it features in this spot rather than at the very top is because I have my doubts about getting it before October; should I manage it, you can expect to hear me raving about it in due course, I’m sure.

Meat – Joseph D’Lacey

The most annoying part of me entering this book into my list is that I saw it in store. I saw it, and wanted it; the unfortunate truth is that I only briefly glanced at the shelf before moving on, and I was curious about Meat, but nothing came of it. I wish it had. Again, I’m determined not to spoil the reading experience by indulging too much in Goodreads’ reviews, and already have a minor grasp on what the narrative entails, but thankfully not enough to put me off reading. This slight idea is what I’m basing my desire to read off – unlike with Easton Ellis and Palahniuk, I’ve never read anything by D’Lacey before, but I have the feeling that Meat may be a good place to start.

Snuff – Chuck Palahniuk

The second Palahniuk novel on here, in part because I fear I might never read it if I don’t ‘bite the bullet’ now, as it were, and read. And that just wouldn’t do. My curiosity won’t let it lie, not at all, and so, here we have Snuff. I read a fairly comprehensive review of this that made my head spin, and the prospect of experiencing a similar sensation while reading this is almost too much to bear – I can’t pass up that chance, not right now. That said, I have the distinct feeling that I may eventually walk away and forget about this book, or be a little too perturbed by its contents to want to visit or revisit it. So, I’m seizing the day and scheduling this for an October read, before it’s too late.

The Rules of Attraction
The Rules of Attraction – Bret Easton Ellis 

Sean Bateman appears in American Psycho, the brother of its central character, Patrick Bateman. I’m not going to lie, this was what got me interested in reading The Rules of Attraction, and I’ve searched for a copy to no avail. I read the first page on Amazon, and this was enough to convince me – as with Less Than Zero, I feel that I should have taken the time to read this before both American Psycho and Lunar Park, but the fact remains that I didn’t, and there is no way in which to change it. Does that mean I’m going to abandon reading this altogether? Absolutely not. Three of the four authors of the books on this list are authors I need to read everything by, and B.E.E is one of them.

So there we have it – there are many, many more, but I feel that I probably couldn’t read much more than this over the space of one or two months. What started out as a reading list designated for October has … escalated, to say the least. I’ll take the time here to register the fact that some of these choices may seem either shocking or depraved, that there may be the question of ‘what is wrong’ with me raised; what would possess me to want to read some of these books? All I’m saying is that I’ve had a little head start. I don’t think any of these choices could disturb me more than anything else I’ve read.

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