AUTHOR: Chuck Palahniuk
Quote: “Seek midday nourishment. Visit memorial acclaimed war hero Colonel Sanders.”
Overview: Pygmy, nicknamed for his small stature by his host family, is an exchange student from an unnamed totalitarian country living with an American family in an unnamed Midwestern state. In truth he is Agent Number 67 and was sent to the United States by said home country to commit a large scale terrorist attack: Operation Havoc. Pygmy is an epistolary novel and fluctuates between the operative’s time living in the United States and his childhood and spy training in his home country. The novel is written in the operative’s broken English.
Analysis: This review will be split into two parts: the story and the writing. The story is classic Palahniuk. It’s entertaining, has the usual gore and vile imagery and an unexpected twist. The novel is written as a journal of the operative and it switches between the present day in which he is infiltrating the United States in order to execute a terrorirst attack, and the past in which he is trained to be a spy in his home country. If you enjoy Chuck Palahniuk novels then you will enjoy the plot. The difference with Pygmy versus his other novels is the style of writing. This novel is written in the operative’s broken English and it takes a while to comprehend what the operative is trying to convey. It also takes longer to read the book as the reader must consistently decipher the language. For the first 100 pages I wasn’t sure how I felt about Pygmy and strongly considered tossing the book because it was not enjoyable to constantly try to figure out what the operative was writing. Once I read about 100 plus pages the language came easier and certain phrases and uses of language became familiar. The reading became easier and quicker and the focus transitioned from determining what was being written, to the actual plot. Overall I enjoyed the book after familiarizing myself with the narrator’s use of English, though the first part of the book was tiresome. It may not be worth your time to read Pygmy and you may be better off to instead pick up another Chuck Palahniuk book.
Conclusion: If you are patient enough to familiarize yourself with the writing style, you will enjoy the book, though other Palahniuk books are similar and easier to read.