By Chuck Palahniuk
First rule of Survivor is TALK about Survivor. Second rule, well most of you know the direction I’m heading, so no need to expand on the now-classic phrase uttered by Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Why would I reference this, you ask? Well, for those sticking their noses a little bit further in between the print would realize that both were culled from the mind and hands of Chuck Palahniuk. Yes, this name may never catch household capacity, but it sure as hell deserves to. Still considered a writing novice by many, Palahniuk has created two of the most stimulating works of recent years. Fight Club has already been transformed into a cinematic masterpiece, now it’s rightfully Survivor‘s turn at bat.
As nihilistic, but even more satirical than Fight Club, Survivor weaves together a tale of an apocalyptic, yet reality-based nature. Palahniuk is hell-bent on including these scenarios, but who can blame him? Tender Branson, our protagonist, recalls his life story, at least the last decade or so that has made a difference, through the notorious black box in an empty, nose-diving plane. From his humble beginnings as naïve survivor of a Jonestown-like cult suicide to the glory days as the robotic über-messiah of the masses, Branson gives you reasons to pity, love or despise him from various anecdotes. Throwing a kink in his routine is the mysterious yet powerful heroine, Fertility Harris. Like Marla Singer in Fight Club, Hollis at times grabs the wheel to veer the story in a constant, refreshing turn away from Branson’s self-loathing rants.
His metamorphosis into a demigod halfway through only foreshadows the cataclysmic events that will soon occur. Soon turned a slave of a whole different cult, celebrity, Branson’s downward spiral into a complete vacuous automaton only reflects the severity that humanity sometimes unknowingly allows unto themselves. Palahniuk maintains his biting satire and metaphorical prowess poking fun at the evils of media, fame and celebrity. He joins the select few scribes, including Bret Easton Ellis, who embody frustration, revulsion and fascination with popular culture and capture it with such humor and incredible viciousness. Spare your tongue for a few hours, go purchase Survivor and witness this splendid slice of Americana firsthand. Remember, “the only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage.”