Chuck Palahniuk, , read by James Colby. . Recorded Books, $24.99 ( , unabridged, five CDs, 5.5 hrs., $24.99 ISBN p) ISBN 978-1-4361-4960-0
The 2008 audio edition of Palahniuk’s ground-breaking 1996 novel provides a timely opportunity to contemplate the direction of Generation X and the wider, popular culture over the past dozen years. The white, male, 20-something angst of the story’s unnamed protagonist and his mysterious partner in crime, Tyler Durden, may now sometimes seem like slightly dated grunge rock. Also, the themes of domestic terrorism and insurrection certainly play differently in a post–September 11 world. Yet Palahniuk’s power to provoke our collective sacred cows remains undeniable. The narrative—with its delusional twists and turns—presents serious challenges on audio. James Colby cleverly plays deadpan cool through much of the early plot exposition so that the chaos that eventually takes hold becomes all the more eerie and surreal. He pulls off the convoluted climactic revelations with emotional authenticity. The listening experience may be too jarring for general audiences merely hoping for a commute diversion. However, the release offers today’s crop of young urban hipsters an opportunity to connect with the voices of a previous decade.
Reviewed on: 08/25/2008