I feel like I’m supposed to be completely captivated by anything written by Chuck Palahniuk, just because it’s Chuck Palahniuk, but in this case it was really hit or miss. I found myself liking it, I found myself hating it, I found myself easily forgetting what had just happened, I remember some moments in vivid detail.
Pygmy, summarised, sounds relatively interesting. The style of writing was jolting at first. I can’t remember being so thrown by the style of writing since I read A Clockwork Orange, but that was more the language too. Writing in logs of broken English, the story is, sometimes at least, interesting.
Brainwashed foreign terrorist teens come to America as a kind of exchange project. That was about as far as I got in the book before my mind was totally thrown by the Wal-Mart incident. When I say there are some moments I remember in vivid detail: that is the epitome. And I stand by what I say with books: if it makes you feel anything strong, it’s doing something right. It made me uncomfortable, it made me a little sick.
From the point of view of someone who’s been brought up in a completely different culture, Palahniuk displays a lot (basically) that simply sucks about America. He attacks pop culture, the education system (the stupidity of dodgeball as part of education is one I remember), sexuality, religion – pretty much anything that an outsider might have thrust in their face upon arrival to the American lifestyle.
I actually enjoyed the fact that most characters remain nameless, like ‘cat sister’, and that you can see the slight changes in his mind at certain moments. I did find some moments funny, but I think this is another case of my Hunter S. Thompson scenario: I’ve heard this book being referred to as hilarious; in turn, I feel like I’ve missed something big. I didn’t find this hilarious – far from it. It was a short book, but some of it really didn’t grab you.
The recurring joke of the vibrator batteries was just a bit… meh.
So, in theory, the book could have been good. From what I read, some people found it great. For me, it was completely down the middle. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly good. It was tolerable, but too hit or miss to get through easily.