Let me first state for the record that I have not read any other Chuck Palahniuk novels, including the famous ones like Fight Club and Lullaby. Palahniuk is a celebrated writer, so I’m willing to read another of his books. But boy, Diary fails to deliver.
The setting of the novel is a fictitious place, Waytansea Island. The protagonist is Misty Tracy Wilmot, a failed artist whose husband lies comatose in a hospital from a failed suicide attempt. The husband, Peter, is a native of the island. He brought Misty to Waytansea twelve years ago after she became pregnant with their daughter, Tabbi. While Peter withers away in a coma, Misty discovers that he has hidden and defaced rooms in houses he remodeled. The owners angrily question Misty and vow to sue. Meanwhile, Misty is barely making ends meet as a hotel maid. She is supporting her 12/13 year-old daughter and mother-in-law. The Wilmot family and all the old families on Waytansea Island were once wealthy, but now they cater to the wealthy tourists. However, the old families have a plan — as the plot reveals — and that plan involves Misty and her reincarnated artistry.
Sounds intriguing — but don’t be fooled. The writer sets you up with some decent writing in the beginning. Then chaos reigns. There are shifts in narrative perspective, reality and fantasy blur, and the big reveal falls flat. In a nutshell, Diary is a generic reincarnation story wrapped around a lot of weird language.