One year after the publication of his best-selling and critically acclaimed novel Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk is back with another unnerving installment in his growing canon of revisionist horror tales. If Lullaby was about words and their power to kill, then Diary is the other side of the coin: it is about art and its ability to shape our destinies. In his inimitable style, Palahniuk has forged another chilling tale out of our deepest fears and given readers a Rosemary's Baby for the new millennium. Art school dropout Misty Wilmot is living a life on the appropriately named Waytansea Island that she never quite imagined. Once an aspiring artist, Misty is now relegated to waiting on the odd assortment of Mayflower-descended residents at the Waytansea Hotel's restaurant while her husband, Peter Wilmot, lies in a coma at a hospital, the victim of a failed suicide. But now, at the dubious urging of her mother-in-law, Grace Wilmot, Misty is once again painting. And painting as if her life and the life of Waytansea Island literally depended on it. In a style that is book-by-book becoming his alone, Palahniuk writes painstakingly detailed and claustrophobic scenarios that draw the reader into Misty's life. Imbued with a growing sense of paranoia that builds with every turn of the page, Diary is Palahniuk at his harrowing best. Through a series of entries written in a "coma diary" she is keeping for her husband, we become privy to Misty's life on the island; the device of the diary is an effective tool allowing us to see into both the world and mind of Misty Wilmot. As the entries in her diary grow, Misty becomes more and more consumed by her painting, eventually becoming a slave to art, the diary and the residents of Waytansea Island. Is all art good for us? Do we spend our lives looking to become what we've always been? Are we all in our own personal coma? Diary may not offer the answers to these questions, but in making us ask them of ourselves, it suggests much more. T.
A. Grasso lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.