Writer Chuck Palahniuk has made a career out of trying to be the literary equivalent of a “shock jock.” First coming to prominence with his 1996 novel, Fight Club (turned into a film in 1999), Palahniuk has ever since made a conscious effort to gross out and disturb his readers. Though often described as a “cult” writer, Palahniuk’s books are put out by Random House, one of the world’s largest publishing entities, and so are hardly obscure.
Since his breakthrough with Fight Club, his books have been lauded as subversive, daring, outrageous and obscene. The novelist’s urge to become ever more offensive to hold his audience’s attention is something to consider. His latest novel, Damned, takes us on a journey characterized by contrived and banal disgust, replete with incessant pop-culture references, half-stolen ideas, and more gross-out “humor.”
Read the book review in full. And let me use that to remind you that Martha and Shirley's "2011 in books (Martha & Shirley)" went up Saturday. It's the community picks for the ten best books of last year. Martha and Shirley's yearly look at books always becomes one of the most popular pieces of the year. I don't mean instantly. It's enjoyed instantly, absolutely. But each year (at least since Jim's been following page views), their book review goes up and is popular but continues to be popular all year. So that by the end of the year it's one of the ten most popular pieces of the year. (My year in review, by contrast, doesn't make the top ten. I'm fine with that but I mention it to stress how popular their piece becomes each year. It always happens that way.)
What book am I reading right now?
It's a book on Carly Simon. Stephen Davis is the author and the title is "There's More Room In A Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carly Simon." The title ("there's more room in a broken heart") is from Carly's "Coming Around Again." (Carly is a singer-songwriter with tons and tons of hits including "Let The River Run," "Jesse," "You're So Vain," "Gimmie All Night," "You Belong To Me," "Nobody Does It Better," "Better Not Tell Her," "Love of my Life," "The Right Thing To Do," "Haven't Got Time For The Pain," and much, much more.)
C.I. got the book from a friend at the publishing company. When C.I. unopened the box, she said, "Okay, Kat, you get first crack."
So I've been reading it like crazy. And I am enjoying it and hope there will be many, many more books on Carly -- our country's finest songwriter.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"