Among the many entertaining and interesting things that Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club and other novels, said in this interview was this little nugget, speaking about the main character in his new book Damned:
In a way I wanted her to be a kind of pre-gender person. In the way that, when everyone is 9, 10, 11, 12, sometimes 13, they are so smart and so confident. They really have a courage going out into the world. They really think they’re going to just kick butt. But puberty devastates them. Few of us ever reach the self-confidence we had at that peak before puberty sort of knocked us flat.
I have a daughter of just this age, and Palahniuk speaks to a quality in her that shines as bright as a 2011 penny. She has this utter sureness about her. Awesomeness, she calls it. And I smile every time I hear her say it. Of course, Pahlaniuk’s prose is not for the faint of heart. As this book description from Amazon shows:
“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued thirteen-year-old narrator of Damned, Chuck Palahniuk’s subversive new work of fiction. The daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire, Madison is abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, while her parents are off touting their new projects and adopting more orphans. She dies over the holiday of a marijuana overdose—and the next thing she knows, she’s in Hell. Madison shares her cell with a motley crew of young sinners that is almost too good to be true: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by fate to form the six-feet-under version of everyone’s favorite detention movie. Madison and her pals trek across the Dandruff Desert and climb the treacherous Mountain of Toenail Clippings to confront Satan in his citadel. All the popcorn balls and wax lips that serve as the currency of Hell won’t buy them off.
This is the afterlife as only Chuck Palahniuk could imagine it: a twisted inferno where The English Patient plays on endless repeat, roaming demons devour sinners limb by limb, and the damned interrupt your dinner from their sweltering call center to hard-sell you Hell. He makes eternal torment, well, simply divine.
But if his heroine, Madison, has even an ounce of the Awesomeness that Second Daughter has in abundance, I definitely want to read this modern send up of Dante’s best work, don’t you?
So, what about it? Were you a specimen of Awesomeness in the 4th Grade? Did puberty throw you for a loop from which you never recovered?