Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk – A Book Review

Tell-All is about a nearly forgotten Hollywood starlet, her personal assistant, and a younger man who seemingly pretends to love her in order to write a “tell-all” book about their relationship, right up until the moment he kills her.  It is a book that really evokes two strong reactions from me.

The first reaction is one of appreciation and commendation.  Tell-All is a radical departure from Palahniuk’s past work, and I appreciate authors who strive to do something different, especially when they’ve fostered a certain loyalty amongst a specific group of fans.  Furthermore, Tell-All, in the true spirit of its stars, name-drops like you wouldn’t believe.  The technical term for what Palahniuk does is called “allusions,” and he has at least five allusions on each page, in bold print, daring you to disregard them.  Admittedly, most of them I didn’t recognize as they were (apparently) the names of past, well-known actors and actresses.  I also want to mention that Tell-All is funny, but it’s the kind of funny that doesn’t seem funny at the moment.  After you’ve finished the book and gone about your business, it seeps into your mind, and then, as you’re doing something else, you realize just how funny a particular scene was.

Unfortunately, the other reaction is not as positive.  Tell-All is a simple plot, and it tends to get repetitive rather quickly.  And as much as I appreciated the sheer determination to include as many allusions as possible, they sadly became distracting pretty fast.  Tell-All was very slow to start, and there were several moments when I wanted to throw in the towel.  I really and truly didn’t care about any of the characters in this book.

All-in-all, Tell-All is not a particularly enjoyable work, but I do greatly admire Palahniuk for writing something unlike anything he’s ever done before, and I also respect the fact that he completely dedicated himself to the idea of including as many allusions as possible.  To depart from his normal offerings is to risk upsetting a committed, previously established fan-base, and I believe that is both brave and artistically honorable.

Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon – A Book Review

Made up of eight interconnected short stories, Love and Obstacles details various aspects of a Bosnian’s life as he begins in Sarajevo as a child and then, due to horrific warfare, lives in Chicago as an adult.  While each story has moments of great depth and even greater hilarity, I must admit that I found myself largely uninterested for most of the book.

Don’t misunderstand, a few of the stories such as “Szmura’s Room,” “The Bees, Part I,” and “Death of the American Commando” were delightful reads, but I simply had trouble connecting to the others.  I believe this was because many of the stories focus upon the narrator as he strives to further his writing career, and the writer-as-the-main-character has become a bit of a turn-off for me of late.

Competently written with an expansive vocabulary, Hemon is able to offer insight into another perspective of life that most of us cannot imagine.  Furthermore, he understands people—warts and all.  When he focuses on what it is to be an imperfect human—not his character as the writer—he really shines.

You Must Read Marilyn Best’s Work

I know a wonderful lady in North Carolina named Marilyn Best.  I met Marilyn because she is my brother’s mother-in-law, and I instantly liked her.  Marilyn is hilarious, tough, smart, and honest.  Best of all?  She’s also a book lover.  I’ve had many interesting conversations with Marilyn about books, specifically in regards to Stephen King.

So when I heard Marilyn had a short work published in The Sun magazine, it didn’t surprise me at all.  Most voracious readers have a knack for writing as well, but that doesn’t necessarily equate great writing.  Good writing is nice, great writing is exquisite and rare.

Marilyn, being the humble person she is, never sent me the link to her work, and so even though it was published in September of 2008, I just now read it today because my parents delivered a hard copy to me.

As I read it, I seriously said out loud, “Wow!”  Marilyn created a piece of great writing.

As I’ve already told Marilyn, she immediately captured my attention and her descriptive work is outstanding.  Most importantly, she has a clear, fluid voice that is most enjoyable to read.  Though the work is short, it is impressively potent, and it’s obvious she knows exactly what she’s talking about.

I sincerely hope you’ll follow the link and read the first entry-Marilyn’s entry-of The Sun’s “Porches.”  While I won’t publish her email on the web, if you’d like to send me any kind words regarding her work, I’d be more than happy to pass them along to her.

Here’s the link: