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Snuff - Book Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published September 2nd 2012

1. Extinguish (a candle): "a breeze snuffed out the candle".
2. Inhale (something) audibly through the nose; sniff: "they stood snuffing up the air".
3. To kill; murder: "he snuffed out those lives".

1. The charred portion of a candle wick.
2. Powdered tobacco or other powdery substance (such as medicine) that is sniffed up the nostril rather than smoked: "a pinch of snuff".

Snuff Film

1. A pornographic movie of an actual murder.
2. A film where the actual killing "snuffing" of the main actor is recorded.
3. A film of a planned killing.

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk

Cassie Wright: Porn Queen of all Porn Queens, Blonde Bombshell of Blonde Bombshells, siren, icon, almost-retiree, mother.

Cassie Wright is set to break the world record for serial fornication and cap her legendary porn career: 600 dudes, one porn queen and a camera. The record to end all records. Nothing can go wrong, right?

But with 600 dudes each anticipating their turn with their queen, each wanting to be 'the dick that killed Cassie Wright', looking for their number to be called, the waiting room is crowded with egos, hearts, testosterone, and increasingly sweaty groins. Sheila the 'talent' wrangler, Mr. 72, Mr. 137 and Mr. 600 circle the sitting area, eyeing the numbers around them and leaking, bit by bit, their perverse reasons for being there.

"Some one-shot dudes, they're just here to say they were. Us veterans, we're here for the face time and to do Cassie a favour. Help her one more dick toward that world record. To witness history," (Palahniuk 2008, 1-2).

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk: 1st edition cover

Mr. 72 is one of the youngest guys there; a 20-something-year-old skinny guy holding a bunch of wilting white roses. He's wearing a Christian cross and is one of the too many men claiming to be Cassie's son. Mr. 137 is a sexually troubled ex-television star who is going bald from the use of Cassie Wright's self-endorsed shampoo and hoping to get his career back on track by screwing the aging porn queen. Mr. 600 is an aging porn actor himself who cannot come to terms with his decaying body and is credited as the man who introduced Cassie Wright to the industry.

Cassie Wright wants to go out with a bang. She wants to top Messalina, top Annabel Chong and be done with it. She wants to take these 600 dudes, make history and then be gone, with all of the money going to her given-up biological child. That's why Mr. 600, Mr Branch Bacardi, has to be the last man in. Mr Branch Bacardi is going to help her fulfil her dying wish.

Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk was published in 2008 by Random House. It's a novel of 197 pages and 35 chapters told from the perspectives of four different people. Snuff was inspired by porn star Annabel Chong, who set the record for engaging in 251 sex acts with around 70 men in 10 hours. The footage from this was used to create the 1999 adult film The World's Biggest Gang Bang. This is also the record that fictional character Cassie Wright intends to beat.

Like Palahniuk's other works, Snuff doesn't fail to shock and sometimes appall the reader, but keeps them intrigued until the end. Also in keeping with Palahniuk's style, the characters are not always likeable and are at times downright frustrating and repelling. All key personalities - Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, Sheila and Cassie herself - splay and battle their faults openly within Snuff's pages.

Although Snuff is about porn, it isn't porn – Palahniuk twists the storyline and directs the novel to be more about human nature. Death, mother-child relationships, father-child relationships, incest, necrophilia, the idea of beauty – these points are just some that are viewed and explored under Palahniuk's direction.

Take a leap and read Snuff; brought to you by the same author that brought you Fight Club, Lullaby and Choke.
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Your Comment
I'm a Palahniuck fan but I hated this book so much that it put me off his work for quite a while. It's so cheap and obvious and so far below the level of his earlier books that I was disgusted. Good review though, well written.
by Jennifer Muirhead (score: 3|1053) 2239 days ago
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