Format: Paperback
Published by: Doubleday
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9780385517881
Price: 499 INR

Warning: This review broaches vivid pornography, a topic that might not be everyone’s piece of cake. Delicacy on the subject isn’t something you will find here.

Drug addiction and alcoholism are topics where one can see a lot of novels and essays written about. The porn industry though is still coming out of its status of being a taboo. With the exception of the late David Foster Wallace who wrote an essay ‘Big Red Son’ about the porn industry, it seems almost everyone is reluctant to broach the topic. Chuck Palahniuk, on the other hand, simply couldn’t resist the urge to. I wish he had.

‘Six hundred dudes. One porn queen. A world record for the ages. A must-have movie for every discerning collector of things erotic.’

SnuffPorn priestess Cassie Wright intends to retire from a legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. The novel, if the entire plot falls under the structure of one, is basically Chuck Palahniuk at his lousy best. Told from the perspective of Mr. 72 (a young man obsessed with Cassie – who may or may not be her long-lost son), Mr. 137 and Mr. 600 – it seems as if women aren’t the only ones being objectified here – as they await their turn on the camera, Snuff is barely a story. It is in fact held together by strands of uninteresting narrative.

Having worked in titles like ‘World Whore Two’, ‘To Drill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Gropes of Wrath’ – oh yeah, real classy work there, Chuck – Cassie’s character isn’t without its fault. We miss out on her narrative altogether-and it might have just made an extraordinary last chapter – and as a result, never get to hear a statement from the woman who gets banged by 600 men. At best, it seems like the story is just about a few aspects – how porn industry has conquered the world, how the takeover has apparently made men horny and happy and the long-term damage that a fascist society causes on all its citizens. In this case, a cracked mirror held up to the American society couldn’t have put the point better. Even then, even with all the bits of edgy writing that he has managed to put into the story, ‘Snuff’ doesn’t make it in the end.

Take this quote for instance:

“The religious school she went to, growing up, Ms. Wright said how all the girls had to wear a scarf tied to cover their ears at all times. Based on the biblical idea that the Virgin Mary became pregnant when the Holy Spirit whispered in her ear. The idea that ears were vaginas. That, hearing just one wrong idea, you lost your innocence. One detail too many and you’d be ruined. Overdosed on information.”

Some might think this to be amusing, educational even. To me though, it seems as if the author has managed to do exactly what he has mentioned- overdosed us on useless information. The author released this book in 2008 around Mother’s Day intentionally, seeing how one of the subplots of the novel involved a mother-child relationship. At times it seems as if the harder Palahniuk tries, the more it blows. While you must forgive the double entendre, I must state that ‘Snuff’ is clearly a very pale imitation of what the plot could actually have achieved. What Palahniuk could have achieved.

Rating: 5/10

If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here: