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Chuck Palahniuk Adjustment Day

Chuck Palahniuk ramraided the late-90s lit scene with an uncompromising mix of Swiftian satire, Burroughsian surrealism and enough scatalogical humour to make Rabelais blush. Two decades on, the very world he was lampooning resembles one of his own twisted creations, with Fight Club, Invisible Monsters and Choke now reading like the naturalism of Zola.

Adjustment Day is Palahniuk's first novel since the erotic slapstick of 2014's Beautiful You. A large spike in the number of male births prompts leaders to plot WWIII as a way of diverting youth revolt and simultaneously boosting the global economy. Equally malignant counter forces are at play, however, and as the plan for war is derailed, the world fragments into isolated nations determined by race and sexual orientation.

Although there is nothing in the novel to rival the gruesome and hilarious swimming pool incident in Haunted, there are still plenty of wonderful gross-out episodes, like an ingenious method of male castration involving poisonous spiders, and moments of grim parody, like an actor reciting the manifesto for a new political regime, believing he is auditioning for a trashy TV show.

Palahniuk has always maintained that his work is drawn from a journalistic investigation of the world around him, as if the dirt and grime were not distorting the image in the mirror he holds up to society but rather part of the reflection itself.

"For the ancient Greeks," he writes, "the absurd was closer to the profound than the tragic was [...] They believed that all human endeavours looked trivial and laughable to the gods who watched from on high. The gods found mankind endlessly funny."

Adjustment Day is a welcome return for Palahniuk and one that will entertain gods and mortals alike.

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