Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted: A Novel of Stories and the Underbellies of American Culture

Anna Warso



Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted is a novel made of stories but also a novel about the tradition of telling stories, particularly those meant to evoke terror and shock, as well as related pleasures. Here, twenty-three tales told by writers trapped in an abandoned theatre flesh out the frame narrative whose key takes the form of the “Nightmare Box,” a mysterious apparatus allowing a glimpse into the indescribable (or “the real reality”). The readers, too, are allowed a peek into the nightmare box that the setting of the novel transforms into as its inhabitants, observed and recorded by a Mr. Whittier, the owner of the original device and the mastermind behind the plot, turn to murder, cannibalism and self-mutilation to enhance the effect that the story of their survival will have upon its (and their) release. This article examines the rhetoric of the unclean in the novel with the use of Julia Kristeva’s category of the abject and it rereads Haunted as both an addition to and a commentary on the canon of works which capitalize on haunted spaces, fragmented bodies and the illusory nature of the lived reality.


Palahniuk; Haunted; horror; abject; metafction

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