In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Sep
  • 30
  • 2007

It’s not Fight Club, but Palahniuk has found his way into my classroom, for sure.

Palahniuk's HauntedI’m reading Haunted right now, about 130 pages in after only 24 hours of ownership. Let me tell you, this thing starts off with a bang and you just wait for the other shoe to drop, cringing that each story will top that first one: “Guts.” You can’t start off a novel that big without any follow through and that story turns into the first ghost that haunts you throughout your reading. So you flip the page and think “is this something I can read while eating?” I trust Palahniuk so I’m sure this will get heavy quickly. Maybe American Psycho heavy because “Guts” and a few other spots show shades of Ellis. “We had no reason, none whatsoever, to bring a chainsaw.” Hmmm…

The book starts off with a poem called “Guinea Pigs.” Very Canterbury Tales, the poem seems gentle, a simple narrative that sets up the rest of the novel. But it turns at one decisive point. From that one spot on, you know that things are not sweetness and light. The tone of the poem shifts at a very precise line and it colors the rest of what follows. It even taints what came before it. Students should discover that spot all on their own. No one should miss that.

Combine that discussion of the poem with VW’s Night Driving, a video I stowed away a few months back after reading about it at Dan’s place, and you’ve got a good intro to tone. Students should leave the classroom with a firm understanding of what tone is and how authors achieve it. The authors of both pieces are playing with your emotions, using specific details (words and images) to set up an atmosphere. And the video even doubles as a nice intro to Dylan Thomas, if you’d like.


Yes, yes, here’s that Night Drive video, as wrapped up in QuickTime (12MB) for you to download. And, just for safe keeping, here’s “Guinea Pigs,” that Palahniuk poem, again.

1 comment

1. Damian Bariexca says:

[10/6/2007 - 1:23 pm] just started an audiobooks service, and Palahniuk is one of their featured authors – they’ve got Haunted, Choke, and one or two others available for download. Per your recommendation of a month or so ago, I’m going to sign up this weekend and check them out.

I know, not the same, but between work and grad school, I spend a LOT of time in my car.