My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked this one up, having loved Fight Club and wondering whether Chuck Palahniuk would turn out to be a one-book wonder.
The blurb implies that the story will be about the porn industry. Cassie Wright, pornstar is out to set a record by having continuous sex with 600 different men on camera. The story shifts between the vantage views of three of the men crowded into that green room – Nos.37, 137 and 600 as well as Sheila, the assistant/wrangler who decides who goes in what order.
Sex, such an intensely private thing, is brought out and dissected as an everyday act, adding that demented Palahniuk quality to the story. Cassie fancies herself an artist and provides endless diatribe on famous stars’ horrific secrets in pursuit of their art (eating crushed eggshells to achieve a sexy, hoarse voice albeit via a bruised throat). She herself trains as if for a marathon, on what sound like Kegel exercises on steroids – all in preparation for the act.
In real life, sex often ends up being so little about the act and so much about dealing with everything else that comes up when you go in so deep – love, trust, families, motherhood, child abuse and sexuality. Similarly the book spends very little time on the actual act and zips across all of these in that manic way, characteristic of the writer.
I found the book disturbing but not as brutal as Fight Club. That’s not an assessment of how good it is though. A dark sense of humour pervades through the entire novel, keeping it palatable. I finished it in three hours flat. And no, Palahniuk isn’t a one-book wonder. For the record, I’ve got another book by him coming up.
I just discovered that a Snuff film is one that shows an actual murder without special effects for entertainment value (and money, of course). The title makes so much more sense now. As No.600 observes, nobody can get pounded 600 times and live to tell the tale. It’s the reason the men are not lined up in order but chosen at random – to ensure that the later acts that’ll most certainly be necrophic, interpersed with earlier acts where Cassie is alive will convey the impression of her being satiated and not dead.