Chuck Palahniuk has a following online; it’s even called The Cult. The fandom is well deserved. When a book evokes such emotion in the reader that you might just faint from graphic truth (such as in his novel Haunted), you have got to love it! Upon opening his latest novel, Pygmy, I felt as if I were taking a dip into the sexiest sea of twisted delights. I often had to stop reading mid-page to burst into a flurry of laughter brought on by his text. This man makes me feel alive, and I need more! The book left me questioning what is wrong with human nature, and what are we products of, exactly?
The story takes you through the inner tinkering of Pygmy, a pubescent terrorist foreign exchange student implant living in suburban America. The sexual explicitness throughout the story was humorously uncomfortable, yet strangely stimulating. Palahniuk’s satirical prowess is yet again screaming victory in the land of fictitious works.
Pygmy reflects on the various activities of everyday American life as truly absurd actions in a perverse and awkward society. He parades us through big-box stores, the town’s “religion propaganda distribution outlet,” and ponders scholastic shortcomings, all while conniving his way into various illegal actions to work up to his and his fellow terrorists’ “Operation Havoc.”
Cacophonic explosions within Pygmy’s head lead to many devilish deeds. However, a sugary sweet reinvention occurs, suggesting that even programmed human beings can reconfigure themselves. This serves as a surefire reminder that the mind is a powerful weapon that just might also provide peace, possibly. Pygmy often draws on quotes that were drilled into himself and his cohorts from an early age that seem to fuel them in every situation. Most often these quotes were of fascist, communist, and all around extreme iconic thinkers. These shocking tidbits of actual recollections of figureheads past greatly impact the novel’s outcome. Most of the quotes Palahniuk includes are stunning in their impact, and made me want to fight a little, such as Benito Mussolini's assertion that, “War is to man what maternity is to a woman.”
You have to stop and rearrange your thought process every time you pick up the book. This style is a departure from his previous novels—more of a structured, militant mind process of events recounted by the main character. Many times after putting the story down, I would find myself thinking similarly to the character. Each process or action noted, each bizarre human encounter was now a new experience.
My only disappointment with this offering from Palahniuk is that I wasn’t disturbed as greatly as I have been whilst reading some of his other novels. Don’t get me wrong, more than likely I’ll read Pygmy again. It’s a country of it’s own, a ride into a mindset that is foreign and convoluted. Cheers to a man who seems to be unafraid to push his limits in challenging the public and making people think differently after reading. This is entertainment.