Haunted is a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. The plot is a frame story for a series of 23 short . The book is best known for the short story “Guts”, which had been published before the book in the March issue of Playboy magazine as well. Guts is actually 3 short stories, but the most relevant is the last one. I don’t recall having read anything else before that made me stop for a while, take some fresh . NoSleep is a place for realistic horror stories. Everything is true here, even if it’s not. Please thoroughly read our rules and.
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No one fainted the first time I read the short story, ‘Guts’. This was on a Tuesday gkts, in the writers workshop where my friends and I have shared our work since Each week, I would read another of the short stories I planned to include in a novel to be called Haunted. My goal was to create horror around very ordinary things: No one fainted, in fact my friends laughed. At moments, the room had the silence of total shocked attention.
No one scribbled helpful notes in the margin of their copy. No one reached for their glass of wine. This was better than the Tuesday before, when my story called ‘Exodus’ sent a friend into my bathroom where she cried behind the locked door for the rest of the evening. Later, her therapist would ask for a copy of the story to help with her psychoanalysis.
No, this week, my writer friends just laughed, and I told them how the three-act story of ‘Guts’ was based on three true anecdotes. Two had happened to friends, and the last had happened to a man I’d palajniuk while attending sex addict support groups to research my fourth novel. They were three funny, gradually more upsetting palabniuk stories about experiments with masturbation gone wrong. But there were stories so funny and sad that for years, every time I boarded an airplane, I gutd the silent prayer: And then I wrote ‘Guts’.
One of the twenty-plus stories that would alternate with poems and the chapters of a book, binding together dozens of mostly true stories. All of them, more of less… upsetting.
On the promotion tour for my novel DiaryI read ‘Guts’ for the first time in public. This was in a crowded bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Powell’s City of Books. A film crew was there from the Netherlands to shoot a documentary. About eight hundred people filled the store to fire code capacity.
Reading ‘Guts’ takes a full head of steam. You don’t get many moments to look up from the page. But when I did, the faces in the front row looked a little gray.
Beyond that were questions and answers. It wasn’t until I’d signed the last book that a clerk said two people had fainted. They’d both dropped to the concrete floor during ‘Guts’, but they were fine now.
With no memory of anything between standing, listening, and waking up surrounded by people’s feet. The next night, at a Borders bookstore chilled with air conditioning, in another big crowd listening to ‘Guts’, another two people fainted. A man and a woman. The next day in Seattle, at a lunchtime reading for the employees of a high-tech corporation, two more men fainted.
At the same moment in the story, both of them fell so hard that their chrome chairs flipped and clattered loud on the polished hardwood floor of the auditorium. At this, the whole corporation was standing, everyone on tip-toe, trying to see who’d fallen and if they were alright.
The event broke down for a few moments while paper cups of water were gotten and the fainters coaxed back to life. With their approval, I finished the story, but by now we had a pattern. The next night, in San Francisco – even after the Cacophony Society disrupted the readings and sprayed me with whipped cream, all of them dressed as Santa Clauses, even after a publicist punched one Santa in the face, after I bribed them with fifty dollars to go have another drink, after all that – three more people fainted.
The night after, in Berkeley, with a reporter from Publishers Weekly watching, three more people fainted. The next night in Santa Cruz, two more fainted. The publicist who watched all three events said the people fell the moment I read the words ‘corn and peanuts’. It was that detail that made seated people go limp. First, their hands slid off their laps.
The Guts Effect
The heads flopped to one side, and their weight carried them to the floor or into the lap of their neighbor. Standing people, according to my translator in Italy, they just dropped, disappearing in the crowd. In Bologna, where an actor read ‘Guts’ in Italian, the listening crowd was riddled with holes, empty spaces where people and fallen palzhniuk lay on the stone floor.
In the auditorium of the Beverly Hills library in Los Angeles, a woman near the rear of the hall screamed and screamed for paramedics and an ambulance, crying so hard that her red blouse looked soaked with blood.
As her husband twitched on the floor. In the men’s bathroom, where another man escaped the story, as he bent to splash cold water on his face, he fainted, cracking his head on the sink.
In Kansas City, another man stepped outside during the reading, escaping to get some air and fainted, splitting his lip on the sidewalk. In Las Vegas, where the country library filled its two auditoriums with people who wanted to hear, one man had a seizure in the theater where I read.
In the second room, watching by closed-circuit video, two more people fainted. In Chicago, where the city library filled two theaters, two people also fainted in the room watching the story on video monitor. One of those people waited to say hello at the end of the three-hour book signing, his face still dirty red with dried blood from biting his own lower lip in half.
A seizure he didn’t remember, during a reading he’d never forget.
Until that tour, I’d only heard rumors about people fainting from stories they heard. Most occurred while Charles Dickens read the murder scene from Oliver Twist.
That strangulation scene would send corseted Victorian ladies spiraling to the floor. In recent history, women have fainted while John Irving read a kitchen table abortion scene from his novel Ciderhouse Rules.
By the time my tour arrived in New York City, the casualties were almost equally men and women. All of them young, between eighteen and thirty years old. Usually, a page before the fainters would fall, people would break into a heavy, pa,ahniuk sweat. At some events, by page seven, I could look up from the microphone and see groups of half-naked people pulling off damp sweaters and stripping off wet shirts. Playboy magazine had declined to buy the ‘Guts’ story, some staffers saying it was too extreme.
But when their Fiction Editor, Chris Napolitano, came to the event at Union Square Barnes and Noble and watched several more half-naked people palahiuk – that night, he and my agent crossed the street to the bar at the W Hotel and inked a deal.
At Columbia University, the next day, two students fell.
67 people fainted as I read my horror story
The second one, sitting behind my editor and his wife, the young man shouting animal sounds as he thrashed on the floor, where the emergency paramedics kept him from breathing in his own vomit.
As the ambulance took him on a five-hundred-dollar ride to the hospital, my editor walked to the edge of the stage, waved me over, and said, ‘I think you’ve done enough damage with this story. Don’t finish reading it.
Just go straight into question and answer…”. More and more, in Pittsburgh and Lansing, Madison and Ann Arbor, Boston and Miami and Spokane, I’d finish reading the story to the sound of ambulance sirens arriving outside.
If the store had large display windows, I’d finish with the red emergency lights washing across my face. If the store had sharp-edged, hard wooden shelves – even if I warned people about the story’s possible effect – some nights ended with clerks sponging up a puddle of blood below where a head had hit on its way down.
I dare you | Books | The Guardian
In Britain, people fainted at the reading in Leeds. In London, the bathrooms were crowded with well-dressed people who escaped the story to lie on the cold tile floors and bby from what little they’d heard. In Cambridge, after a man made the signature groan and tumbled out of his chair, a doctor explained the garbled, wet-throat noise that always came a heartbeat before the fall.
As you faint, the doctor said, as your neck goes limp and your palahnihk flops, your windpipe becomes blocked and you can’t breath. To save your life, your body automatically jerks your head forward to open your throat.
He used fancy terms like ‘soft palate’. The jerk that snaps your head forward and lets you breathe, that motion carries your unaware body, heavy as meat, to the floor. In Italy, with an actor named Massimo, reading the translated story in his booming, trained cbuck – people dropped as if shot. So many that the could’ve been targets in a carnival shooting gutss.
In Milan, a man woke up to find himself surrounded by feet. Standing, he shook his fist and shouted: Why did you read that story? Still gray and soaked with sweat, he wanted to know: Was my goal just to humiliate him in public?
To make him faint in front of so many people…? In all, 67 people have fainted while Pwlahniuk read ‘Guts’.
The Guts Effect | The Cult
Over the internet, I now hear stories of other people making their peers pass out by reading it aloud. So that number keeps growing. Hy a nine-page story, some nights it takes thirty minutes to read.
In the first half, you’re paoahniuk for so much laughter from your audience. In the second half, you’re pausing as your audience is revived. But the first time I read ‘Guts’, nobody fainted. My goal was just to write some new form of horror story, something based on the ordinary world.
Without supernatural monster or magic. The would be a book you wouldn’t want to keep next to your bed. A book that would be a trapdoor down into some place dark. A place only you could go, alone, when you opened the cover.