This is not a novel, at not even 200 pages, and with large writing and generous spacing, not to mention frequent changes in character perspective that takes up half a page each time, it might just about be a novella in length. So short that I finished it in 3 hours.
There is some trepidation in slating this, it was bought for me by a very close friend, and I know he loves it, and slating something bought for you is not very polite, so I apologise in advance for giving this my honest opinion.
"You'll bite your pillow laughing" says Arena Magazine (A lad's mag I'd never heard of until I looked it up.)
I didn't laugh once while reading it, not one snigger, chuckle, or moment of amusement occurred during the reading of this.
Palahniuk has merely taken a subject area not often written about, the world of hardcore porn, and tried to make some sort of social commentary on it, maybe. That's the thing though, what is it about, what is it looking to achieve, what point is Palahniuk trying to make.
For he must be attempting to make some sort of point as the story itself is almost non-existent. You can sum it up in less than a paragraph.Ageing pornstar attempts to make a ton of money for child given up for adoption 20 years ago by having sex with 600 men in one session, filming it, and hopefully dying at the end. Told from the perspective of Sheila, her wrangler, and three of the men, one who started her in porn, a scandal hit TV actor, and someone who might be her son and thinks he is.
The whole story, summarised above, seems to exist merely as a vehicle for anecdotes and stories about how actors and actresses kept themselves beautiful and/or launched themselves (screaming with strep throat for a manly voice; cutting a heel on one shoe shorter to make the ass grind together sexily; Hitler inventing the first sex doll; Marie Provost being partially eaten by her starving dog when she died in her apartment).
If not anecdotes, then descriptions of the ageing pornstars former films which in themselves merely exist to state the name of the film, which will be a pun. The Italian Hand Job, Chitty Chitty Gang Bang, World Whore One, The Importance of Balling Ernest, and Bang the Bum slowly. These may be inventive, or just taken from actual films, either way, they're not amusing.
Pick a random page in the book and on one of those two pages opened will be an anecdote, story, like the above, or a description of one of the porn films together with the name of it. Quite remarkable considering how spaced out the text is.
There is little to differentiate the characters, there is no real plot, and the ending has no redeeming quality. My expectation of some sort of twist or incredible ending that changes your whole perception of the story, such as at the end of Fight Club, does not happen and it just fizzles out.
Merely writing about the making of a porn flick does not make a novel.