Palahniuk’s “Doomed”: Out of the Garbage Can, Into the Fryer


Well I’ll be damned. Chuck Palahniuk has done it again. Only two years after our first glimpse of Madison’s Hell, Palahniuk has released Doomed: the second book in a trilogy that began with Damned. In case you’ve been riding off of the Fight Club train since 1996 and have missed the boat on everything he’s written since, there are a few things to consider before running out and going on a Palahniuk binge.

That sort of darkness is dangerous, and Doomed is no exception.

Doomed is the kind of book you want to read if you wholeheartedly enjoy feeling your flesh crawl. I don’t mean in a “boy, that was creepy” kind of way, I mean in an “I just watched somebody vomit into an open wound and need to take a ten year bath” kind of way. Grossed out? That’s just the tip of the spittle ice burg.

Damned—the bones, muscle, and organs of the unfinished trilogy—was a landscape of organs, excrements, and toenails in which Palahniuk’s characters were free to roam. Doomed is… well, it’s what Palahniuk might describe as the carrot under your bed, or the deformity behind your veil. Doomed is the filthy horrifying secret everybody carries around. In other words, once you’ve read Doomed, you’re going to want to scour your brain with some industrial strength disinfectant.

The book follows the ghost of Madison Spencer, the “thirteen years old, fat, and dead” girl with fake eczema introduced in Damned, but this time, Palahniuk has done away with the diaries and has written young Madison a blog. Rather than her usual letter-like format, Young Maddy has gotten with the times and started addressing her audience as “gentle Tweeters”.

In comparison to Damned, Doomed has a less topical exploration of the underworld, and more of an internal journey through ghostly omniscience with a hint of sadistic murder. Palahniuk plays with the idea of resisting fate, but like the title suggests, the novel has a pretty consistent and overwhelming feeling of inescapable doom for both the characters and the reader. You read, you cringe, you gape in horror, and then you read the next chapter because you can’t help but want more.

Doomed grips you like a train-wreck reality show: no matter how painful the experience is, you keep going back because you suddenly find yourself insatiable.

While Doomed is reasonably easy to follow, the plot line kind of takes a back seat to the gory content, which is about as fetid and ripe as you could want.

Doomed is the overripe banana in your fruit bowl. It’s the soccer shorts you left in your hamper last season. In short, Doomed is not something you want to be caught reading on the bus… but you’ll probably do it anyway.