I freely admit that I only read this because it informed some Panic lyrics. Who says bandom teaches us nuffin?
First off, there was the obviously shock-value-only inserts about the crazier side of gay sex. Sadly for my shock-metre, I'd heard of all these things before. Therefore they neither disgusted nor surprised me, but I was better able to impartially judge how much they added to the literary merit of the story.
The patchwork quilt scene made me laugh, but for the reason outlined above, I could see that no way would anyone talk like that. It was written to shock and amuse and it kind of worked, but evoke reality it did not. It was too stilted, too - obvious.
The beginning of the story suggested a different middle and end. I find that when writers start out describing very rich, glitzy worlds, they often backpedal when they realise they have nothing to fall back on from their own experience. Not many writers come from a background where yachts and cocaine are run of the mill. Shannon and Evie aren't supermodels, they're just people on TV ads. That's not half so glamorous - in fact, it's kind of pathetic. And what model dates a cop?
I didn't believe Manus' character. He was too much of a parody. (Unless the vice squads really do masquerade as hookers to catch paedophiles - and druggies to catch drug-dealers - and tax evaders to catch fraudsters - and Mickey Blue Eyes to catch mobsters - in which case, colour me mistaken.) I mainly didn't buy his ability to come up with pithy, almost-meaningful aphorisms to write on postcards. What in his life, a shallow pool filled with denial, generated that? I'm sure it could happen, just not here. He was a handy mouthpiece through which Palahniuk could spew quotable soundbites. And the book is filled with absolutely amazing quotable soundbites. He's a bit like Coupland in that sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't automatically mean the book will hang together as a story. It's a bit like using television quotes to move along your original dialogue (I'm sure you know what I mean): at first it's funny, but in the end, the quotes write you.
Plus, the finale. I'm never comfortable when characters just disappear if they have no visible means of support. Shannon can't SPEAK, has no money and no identity. What is she going to do now?
As for her and Shane's motivations - no frakking clue, dude. I'm not deep enough for this shit. I can see why Ryan Ross liked it, though. l~o~l.