Volume 47, Number 16 - June 14, 2010

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Anna Carabeo
Anna Carabeo
Multimedia Editor

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Writer employs hollywood magic; confuses readers in the process

By Anna Carabeo

picture of book cover
Palahniuk’s Tell-All is written in an unusual style many might not be familiar with.

Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel Tell-All pays homage to old Hollywood, centering on the life of fading movie star Katherine “Miss Kathie” Kenton and her relationship with her maid, Hazie Coogan.

Coogan, a life-long caretaker of the aging actress, narrates the novel. She takes it upon herself to chase off gold-digging suitors, hoping to protect Kenton’s emotional integrity.

When a “gentleman caller” by the name of Webster Carlton Westward III manages to weasel his way into Miss Kathie’s heart (and boudoir), Coogan is put on high alert.

She discovers that Westward has more in mind than just “hanky-panky;” he has already written a tell-all memoir, in which Miss Kathie dies via musical extravaganza.

Coogan worries that Westward's intends to kill Miss Kathie, to validate his already-written memoir, which he plans to get rich off.

Coogan does everything in her power to push Westward away, however, it becomes more difficult as Miss Kathie fantasizes about romance with Westward.

There's not much more to the plot.

The story is written as a screenplay; every section is labeled in Act-Scene format.

All proper nouns are in bold type, which adds emphasis to the name-dropping that Palahniuk uses to recreate the frills of a bygone era.

At times, this reader service is masterful. However, its usefulness might be limited, considering Palahniuk’s audience. Most of the names being dropped belong to people who had their 15 minutes of fame 50 years ago. At the same time, the ease with which Palahniuk seems to pull this off leaves readers wondering what’s going on.

The name-dropping creates confusion, and takes time to adjust to, but after the first two “scenes,” the novel starts to pick up.

It takes a while for the reader to become engaged in the story, and in my opinion, it was one of the main reasons why I found the story to drag on.

Palahniuk’s Tell-All is a well-written book, written in an unusual style many might not be familiar with. Palahniuk creates a story that is exaggeratedly vivid and full of imagery, leaving the reader as if they had just left the movies.

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