SURVIVOR by Chuck Palahniuk


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A morbidly fascinating black fantasy about a young cult member’s rise to fame and his fall from grace, written by West Coast novelist Palahniuk (Fight Club, 1996). When an airliner goes down, the first thing the authorities look for amid the wreckage is the —black box— that contains a recording of the pilot’s last words, which are usually grim but fairly restrained—almost always because the pilot doesn—t expect (almost always) to die. Tender Branson’s situation is unusual: the last survivor of an obscure American religion known as the Creedish Death Cult, he is dictating his confession into the black box of a 747 that he knows will soon crash somewhere over the Australian outback. —What you—ve found,— he declares, —is the story of what went wrong.— That’s putting it softly. Like all Creedalists, Branson, raised for a life of obscure service to strangers, chose to hire himself out as an unpaid domestic while still in his teens. Probably he would have spent his life keeping house for the yuppie vulgarians who took him in, but an FBI raid on the Creedish Church compound in Nebraska resulted in a mass suicide within the cult. Since then, surviving Creedalists living in the field have been killing themselves on a regular basis, so that Branson is soon the only Creedalist left. As such, he becomes a genuine celebrity, complete with an agent who gets him book contracts, movie deals—and with a good lawyer intent on winning him uncontested title to all Creedish Church properties. A marriage is arranged for him . . . and televised live from the Super Bowl during halftime. But things turn sour when evidence mounts that many of the suicides were, in fact, murders—and that Branson’s brother Adam may still be alive. Is Branson a serial killer? Or Adam? Can they ever lead a normal life again? Brilliant, engrossing, substantial, and fun: Palahniuk carves out credible, moving dramas from situations that seemed simply outlandish and sad on the evening news. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-393-04702-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1998


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