English Faculty Publications

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Book Chapter

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Publication Source

Reading Chuck Palahniuk: American Monsters and Literary Mayhem


Much of Chuck Palahniuk's writing centers on the mutilation of bodies. Bodies are broken from the outside. They are beaten unrecognizable and destroyed beyond recuperation. Bodies are transformed from one sex to another, one gender to another. In Palahniuk's writing, the human body is the site for the inscription of a search for modes of authentic living in a world where the difference between the fake and the genuine has ceased to function. Not just the rules that had regulated behavior and prospects for a good life, but the rules that determine desire, pleasure, gender identity, and family role are all undone. The prospects for a life of the true, the good, or even the real have been lost to their own proper simulacra.

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Published Version


From Reading Chuck Palahniuk: American Monsters and Literary Mayhem, by Cynthia Kuhn and Lance Rubin (Routledge, 2004). Permission to archive Chapter 5 is provided by Taylor and Francis Group LLC, a division of Informa plc.

Permission documentation is on file.



Place of Publication

New York, NY