Porn star ends career with a bang

Snuff is author Chuck Palahniuk’s ninth fiction novel, first released on May 20, 2008, but it will be reprinted in paperback this month.

The definition of snuff, as it’s meant in this case at least, is the motion picture genre that depicts the actual death or murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment. And it just so happens that the genre of this particular book is porn.

In Snuff, we meet Cassie Wright, a legendary porn actress who intends to end her infamous career the only way she knows how — with a bang. A gang bang in technical terms, and none of that foursome crap either.

Six hundred men and one woman — truly a Guinness World Record any one of us would love to have, and Wright does this in desperate hope that this stunt will result in her death, which raises the obvious question of why, a question that results in a rather shockingly funny answer.

The story unfolds from the perspectives of four people, #72, #137, #600, and Wright’s personal assistant — Sheila. As each of the 600 men waits for their “alone time” with the ex-porn star, our three “heroes” and the lady inform the reader as to how they became a part of such a sordid affair, what they hope to accomplish by participating, and all sorts of other interesting tidbits about the wide world of pornography.

What eventually becomes the elephant in the room and one of many story arcs is the possibility that Cassie Wright had a porn child — as in she became pregnant while shooting porn with one of the many men she’s had in her life — and that it’s been a secret her entire life.

That, along with questions about who the father is, reverberates constantly around the green room, where 600 men wait for their 15 minutes (or seconds) of fame.

For anyone else who has read all of Palahniuk’s novels, it’s safe to say that while every book is absurd in a different way each time, he has settled into somewhat of a premeditated form of writing.

In each of his books, you’ll have a crazy premise, in this case a porno to end all pornos, followed by some twist — a porn child? — and then things start getting a little weird, until finally things go absolutely nuts and Palahniuk goes completely off the deep end.

Of course, this is the case with Snuff, but the road Palahniuk takes isn’t really captivating.

While reading the book, it just felt like waiting for the next plot twist or big revelation, not so much like a story was actually playing out. This was much like the way his previous book, Rant, was written.

Things just kind of drag in the middle as you wait for things to go awry, and while they do in a big way in that book, in Snuff, the climax just doesn’t hit as hard as those in his previous works.

That being said, Palahniuk is one of today’s most creative and innovative writers. His nihilistic writing style is a perfect parallel to today’s tough times, yet his wordplay always manages to bring a smile to the reader’s face.

It is enjoyable to watch him craft a character so carefully one way, only to flip him on his head in a second with no regard to what the reader may be feeling toward him.

With Palahniuk, the star becomes an extra in a moment’s notice and the “other guy” becomes the savior. His quick, black humor wrapped up nicely in short sentences will keep pulling you back in, even through the occasional periods of the book that seem to drag on and on. His wit is lethal and his table manners very impolite.

Another little extra you’ll get in Snuff, along with the rest of Palahniuk’s novels, is the incredible amount of research he puts in to every book he writes.

Like Michael Crichton, Palahniuk will often throw in little-known facts, usually of the wild kind, into his novels, and with this book, you’ll end up knowing more about the world of well-attended sex acts and porn in general than you probably ever wanted to know.

The bottom line is that fans of Palahniuk will adore this novel as another opportunity to check out his unbelievable writing, and even for those who aren’t familiar with his work, this really is a solid form of entertainment and a great way to kill a long car ride.