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A Divine Bit of Comedy

Doomed, Chuck Palahniuk’s ribald sequel to Damned, seeks to reinvent Dante’s Purgatorio for teenagers. Dang

Author Jacqueline Detwiler


Loved prodigiously by the disillusioned masses, Chuck Palahniuk is not the kind of guy you picture writing about heaven. Never mind the dystopia of Fight Club; his short story “Guts” was so lurid it resulted in nearly 70 faintings at live readings around the world. So, when he says his latest novel, Doomed (Oct. 18), is the second in a series inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy—a sort of “Hayley Mills Parent Trap” between God and Satan and a comedy for a younger demographic—you may wonder where in the heck Palahniuk plans to take us.

The tale centers on the daughter of two sanctimonious movie stars. The daughter dies, enters a thoroughly repulsive version of Hell, then figures prominently in the Apocalypse. According to Palahniuk, the story is a conduit through which he processed his feelings about his mother’s death. “Instead of writing this morose, maudlin book about a middle-aged man whose parents were both dead, I thought it would be fun to—what they call ‘cognitively reframe’ it, and write a funny book about a dead child whose parents were still alive,” he says. “That way, I could completely reset things and make a comedy out of what in my life was a tragedy.”

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