I go through phases of not reading books, but having discovered the joys of Amazon I might go back to it. They have books that probably couldn’t be found in an ordinary UK bookshop! “Damned” could be one of these!
I first came across Chuck Palahniuk’s books in 2005 on a visit to the States, and bought all the ones I could find. Visiting Amazon.com the other day, I searched for more of his books and as soon as they were delivered, I read “Damned.”
It is in the style of a picaresque novel, with some re-workings of scenes from “Pilgrim’s Progress” and it takes of Judy Blume’s 1970s coming-of-age novel “Are you there God? It’s Me Margaret.” The heroine of “Damned” is Madison Spencer and every chapter begins with “Are you there Satan? It’s me, Madison.” She thinks she died of a marijuana overdose, although all becomes clear as the novel progresses.
She remembers things about her earthly existence and eventually remembers the details of her demise. The characters she meets in Hell have been there for aeons, in some cases, although they are all attired in modern garb. They reveal their age when they visit Earth for Halloween. Madison’s job in Hell is as a telemarketer, cold-calling people during lunchtime. She actively recruits people to Hell, advising them on what footwear they should be wearing when they shuffle off their mortal coil. (She changes her mind about what is de rigeur as the novel progresses.
Madison manages to vanquish some demons such as Hitler, Vlad the Impaler and Catherine de’ Medici. There are also some hilarious scenes with demons from folklore from around the world. Palahniuk seems to have swotted up on them!
I loved every chapter of this book and howled with laughter at some of the scenes, which are extremely well described. It is a coming-of-age novel with a difference and a few twists towards the end.
The final words are: “To be continued…” I can’t wait!
If you love black humour then this is the book for you!