I finished Damned and Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk, bringing his collection of works into the lead for my most read by any one author; his books now taking six spots of my adorned and limited shelf space. Before the D&D duo, I read Choke, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Fight Club. FC landed me 200 community service hours at Florida State University. I was forced to vacuum all the dorms for creating, “an intimidating atmosphere for students.” One kid is knocked out, all hell breaks loose.
Speaking of Hell, Damned and Doomed, Chuck’s latest works result from a thirteen-year-old girl and her experiences while being in the damned. Madison, the girl in reference, reminds me of a chubby Hit-Girl character from the movie Kick Ass. She is in hell after overdosing on Marijuana, but dies as the result of a snuff choking from her stepbrother, Goran. Her parents, a power couple and pair of Hollywood elitist, are at an award show while it happens.
I personally have never stepped into the mind of a thirteen year-old, fat girl, but after 800 combined pages, I think they might be the best-suited for living in Hades. She is wise about what to wear, she doesn’t know enough about life to miss anything too much, and she is excited for her opportunity to meet the devil. Budded up with a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, together they navigate the underworld of sperm oceans, poop waterfalls, aborted fetuses ponds, fields of fingernail clippings, and a call center where the dead work as telemarketers calling earth.
Madison, working at the call center, mistakenly one day gets her parents on the phone. She lies and tells them she is heaven and gives them a list of things to do to get there. “Which are technically the things you do to get to hell.” To wit: saying the word FUCK more than 100 times, honking your horn, smoking cigarettes, jaywalking, etc. When she finds out she is wrongfully damned, she leaves Hell on Halloween Night to find the advice she shared with her parents, to get them to hell, is now widespread across the earth as a religious movement and dooming everyone.
In Doomed, she tries to right her mistake, hangouts with a Ketamine ghost tracker, and gets more than she bargained for from the doomed undead. Oh, and of course, like all of Palahniuk’s books there is a big twist. It has to do with fiction, the creation of Madison, and the Devil’s ambitious ideals of being an author.
The thing I like most about Chuck is his ability to tell a story like this and keep me interested. He is brilliant. I know James Salter is supposed to be the owner of the venerated sentence, via The New Yorker, but Palahniuk is on another level as well. Fuck, I just read 800 pages from the view of a thirteen-year-old girl and not for topic or subject matter, but because of the way he writes and the dedication he shows to every line. Chucky McChuckertin is fucking brilliant. If you didn’t get that reference…read the fucking book. You are damned if you do, doomed if you don’t.