Chapter 9 Body and Trauma in Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

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Abstract

Chuck Palahniuk’s 2005 novel Haunted presents a group of wannabe writers confined for a retreat. The description of their interaction during confinement intertwines with the short stories they produce, and in both narrative levels, the writers invariably revisit memories of abuse, loss, social displacement and frustration. While confined, they spend part of their time inflicting pain and mutilation to themselves, aiming at the fabrication of new traumas, which they believe will increase the public’s interest in their works and lives. I analyse the representation and fabrication of trauma in Haunted through the manipulation of the body via bruising, (self-inflicted) mutilation, gender and age bending, cross-dressing and exacerbated sexualisation, among others. Jean Baudrillard’s concepts of simulation and hyperreality support the fabrication of trauma in the novel, whereas images of bodies changed by trauma are associated to the three phantasies that, according to Baudrillard, haunt the contemporary world: cancer, terrorism and transvestite.

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