On reading: The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

Title: The Invention of Sound

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

From the back: Private detective Foster Gates is a father is in search of his missing daughter, and sound engineer Mitzi harbors a secret that may help him solve the case. It’s Mitzi’s job to create the dubbed screams used in horror films and action movies. She’s the best at what she does.

But what no one in Hollywood knows is the screams Mitzi produces are harvested from the real, horror-filled, blood-chilling screams of people in their death throes–a technique first employed by Mitzi’s father and one she continues on in his memory—a deeply conflicted serial killer compelled beyond her understanding to honor her father’s chilling legacy. Soon Foster finds himself on Mitzi’s trail. And in pursuit of her dark art, Mitzi realizes she’s created the perfect scream, one that compels anyone who hears it to mirror the sound as long as they listen to it—a highly contagious seismic event with the potential to bring the country to its knees.

The gist: Just putting this out there front and centre, consider it a disclaimer of sorts, but Palahniuk’s writing is largely responsible for me getting back into both reading and writing many moons ago. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view. For clarity’s sake, for me that was a bloody fine thing indeed. And for reference, the specific book was Invisible Monsters and it’s basically one of my all-time favourite books ever.

But I digress.

The Invention of Sound is dark, disturbing, punchy, gritty. All the things you’d likely expect from a Palahniuk book. It’s a pacy read that takes you through a whirlwind of little strange things turning into big strange things turning into gory strange things turning into what-the-fuck-just-happened-there strange things. Things that start off as believable and end up as believable despite the weirdness, with many stages in between that push you there.

It’s an interesting thing, because my other half studied sound engineering back in the day, and I remember sitting in recording studios helping to create the soundscapes for clips and idents. I never had to do a scream though and turns out THAT’S PROBABLY FOR THE BEST. This book has the grit and the twists and the turns that you’d expect from Palahniuk, along with satirical commentary on the entertainment business and the machine that grinds the sheen. He writes with a razor’s edge eye on the world as it is. Step by step, he takes you to something extreme and horrific, but however unlikely the outcome might be it’s normally something with its roots in the real.

Favourite line: Hollywood had never lacked new ways to take pretty girls apart.

Read if: You want Palahniuk’s trademark writing style to take you to a dark and seedy underworld of Hollywood

Read with: Wine, headphones, and a good (or B-movie-bad) horror movie to ponder the soundtrack to.

Get it: The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

ARC gratefully received from Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Corsair

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