I started to read Haunted by Chuck Palahnuik last night. I say "start" because I'm not quite sure I'm woman enough to continue reading. It's basically a story about a group of people that are on an island, "Survivor" style, and the main story is interspersed with short stories and poems written by the characters. It sounded like a literary horror book of sorts, and something I could maybe get into. Last night I read the Afterward first--I tend to do this because I like getting a glimpse of the author's mind--and it intrigued me. It was a discourse on the story "Guts" and how when the author would read it out loud at readings, people would faint. Every night one or two people would hit the floor. Something like 76 people have gone stone-cold unconscious while hearing this story. So of course, I have to read this part first thing. "Guts" tells the story of three people who, when they were thirteen, had a bad experience with masturbation. The first shoved a carrot into his butt, hid it under a pile of dirty clothes when he got called to dinner, and then couldn't find later because his mom had picked up the clothes to do wash. The second shoved a sliver of wax into his penis, lost it inside, and had to be fixed with surgery. The third story happened to the narrator. He used to masturbate in the family's swimming pool. One time he decided to do it over the pool filter. Well, he gets suctioned to it, and when he tries to swim for the surface, he disembowels himself. In order not to drown, he has to bend down and chew through his own intestines.
I can't even describe how much this story disturbed me. I like the horror genre as much as the next person but this story assaulted my sensibilities. It's not that I'm a prude about jacking off or that the disembowelment disgusted me. I can't pinpoint why I'm so freaked out by it. In the afterward, the author relates reading a book to an act of trust; he says investing yourself in a book is as consensual as sex. I agree with that ... and I feel a little violated. I mean, the writing was great, it's not that it was a bad story. I just wasn't expecting someone to explore something so normal--experimenting with sex--in such a visceral and horrible way.
Maybe I'm just jealous.