What is a First Edition?

New Releases: Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

TellAllTell-All (released in May) is Chuck Palahniuk's 11th and latest novel.

Palahniuk has ventured forth into very strange territory: the glorious days of the silver screen. The book is narrated by Hazie Coogan, in a first-person, vaguely-journalistic style. Hazie is the aide de camp to a slightly over-the-hill film star named Katherine Kenton. The self-sacrificing Hazie cares for Kenton from dish-washing to date-pandering, serving as a guardian angel. 

When Kenton is wooed by a svelte new man - one known to write tell-all memoirs - Hazie goes into overdrive to protect her employer & friend. 

The book is a little hard on the eyes. 

Written to mimic the look and cadence of an old gossip column, it is filled with shameless name-dropping and a perpetual series of inside jokes that are probably more amusing to film scholars than to general readers. Palahniuk's sheer audacity leads to some giggling when familiar names were involved, but, for the most part, the references were cryptic. 

Underneath the name-dropping and thick layers of stylized narrative, there's a pretty good story in here, complete with an unexpected twist ending. However, by the time I got there, I was finding it hard to care. Although I appreciated Mr Palahniuk's enthusiastic & well-researched commitment to telling a story in style, I was losing the substance. To strain a metaphor: the book left me knee-deep in icing, without a piece of cake in sight. 

Palahniuk (rightfully) has a cult following, and one that will forgive him anything. Similarly, I'm glad he's not resting on his laurels and, Warren F. Ellis style, he's trying to forge ahead in new territories. Tell-All, however, won't go down as his finest effort. As an aside, if any of this does pique your interest in the golden age of Hollywood, I really recommend Gavin Lambert. Less over the top, but still sordid enough to make entertaining and literary reading.