Sam van Zweden




Pygmy by Palahniuk, Review

I’ve recently finished “Pygmy” by Chuck Palahniuk.

We have a good relationship, Palahniuk and I. We go way back. We’ve waded through many an existential crisis together…

…all this good work was threatened by “Pygmy”, which was released late last year. I’d picked it up and turned it over, had a quick flick, and put it back on the shelf awaiting richer days.

Last week, however, this red-and-gold clad number fell into my hands for reviewing for Yartz.

I have to say, I really came out of this one confused.

“Pygmy” reads in a much less coherent way than Palahniuk’s other novels. The narrator is from an unnamed totalitarian country, and goes to America in the guise of an “exchange student” in order to infiltrate and put into action “Operation Havoc”. He tells the story in thoroughly broken English, absolutely free of any kinds of grammar or syntactical rules. It took a while to get into, but like any incredibly stylized voice, eventually I got there. This is not what made “Pygmy” such a disappointment. The lack of coherence here came from the fact that none of the chapters in the book really fit together comfortably.

It’s reads less like the tumbling-down-stairs-at-an-alarming-rate stories that I’ve come to expect from Palahniuk, and more like an assorted collection of the most horrible episodes he could think to put in a novel.

Granted, this book is uproariously funny. Hilarious. It’s just a pity that’s the most I got out of it.

All the horribleness does have a function though. This is an amusing but incredibly biting satire of American life and the terrible potential of the wrong people having power.

Usually with Palahniuk’s novels, I dive in and get comfy, and leave feeling like I’ve gotten away with something a little bit cheeky. Not so with Pygmy.

I enjoyed reading it, found it characteristically hilarious, but Palahniuk has written much better novels and has missed the mark a bit with this one.

Teaser Tuesday #4

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

…This week’s Teaser Tuesday has been expanded slightly to a paragraph, because most sentances in this book are only a few words long.

“Fingers of operative me pinch wood stick like stem of stinking weed. Wave stripe flag to fan away reek of host family air. Butter fat stench. Chemical hair soap stink. Such filthy reek American cash money.”
                            from “Pgymy” by Chuck Palahniuk

Blog at

Up ↑