Haunted (Palahniuk novel)

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Haunted is a novel (2005) by Chuck Palahniuk.


  • People in France have a phrase: "Spirit of the Stairway." In French: esprit d'Escalier. It means that moment when you find the answer but it's too late. So you're at a party and someone insults you. You have to say something. So, under pressure, with everybody watching, you say something lame. But the moment you leave the party...As you start down the stairway, then - magic. You come up with the perfect thing you should've said. The perfect crippling put down. That's the Spirit of the Stairway. The trouble is, even the French don't have a phrase for the stupid things you actually do say under pressure. Those stupid, desperate things you actually think or do.
    • Chapter One, Guts
  • "To create a race of masters from a race of slaves, Mr. Whittier said, to teach a controlled group of how to create their own lives, Moses had to be an asshole."
    • Chapter 3
  • "It's not a matter of right and wrong," Mr. Whittier would say. Really, there is no wrong. Not in our minds. Our own reality. You can never set off to do the wrong thing. You can never say the wrong thing. In your own mind, you are always right. Every action you take--what you do or say or how you choose to appear--is automatically right the moment you act.
    • Chapter 4
  • What you have to love about drinking is, every swallow is an irrevocable decision. You charging ahead, in control if the game. It’s the same with pills, sedatives and painkillers, every swallow us a first definite step down some road.
    • Chapter 4, Slumming by Lady Baglady
  • Stink for privacy, the new way to protect personal space. Intimidation by odor.
    • Chapter 4, Slumming by Lady Baglady
  • "A journalist has a right... ...and a duty, to destroy the golden calves he helps create."
    • Chapter 5, Trade Secrets, A Poem About the Earl of Slander
  • "You are permanent, but this life is not," Mr. Whittier would say. "You don't expect to visit an amusement park, then stay forever."
    • Chapter 6
  • The earth, he'd say, is just a big machine. A big processing plant. A factory. That's your big answer. The big truth. Think of a rock polisher, one of those drums, goes round and round, rolls twenty-four/seven, full of water and rocks and gravel. Grinding it all up. Round and round. Polishing those ugly rocks into gemstones. That's the earth. Why it goes round. We're the rocks. And what happens to us--the drama and pain and joy and war and sickness and victory and abuse--why, that's just the water and sand to erode us. Grind us down. To polish us up, nice and bright.
    • Chapter 6
  • In the big factory of perfecting human souls, the Earth was a kind of tumbler. The same as the kind people use to polish rocks. All souls come here to rub the sharp edges off each other. All of us, we're meant to be worn smooth by conflict and pain of every kind. To be polished. There was nothing bad about this. This wasn't suffering. It was erosion. It was just another, a basic, an important step in the refining process.
    • Chapter 6
  • "Every apostle or disciple," Mrs. Clarke says, "as much as their running to follow they're savior-they're running just as hard to escape something else."
    • Chapter 8
  • For the rest of history, all over the world, people will be trying to save this same dead woman. This woman who just wanted to die.
    • Chapter 9, Exodus
  • You can't unfuck a kid. Once you fuck a kid, you can't get that genie back in the bottle.
    • Chapter 9, Exodus
  • This is just what human beings do-turn objects into people, people into objects. Back and forth. Tit for tat.
    • Chapter 9, Exodus
  • As a fundraiser, our first idea was 'Five Bucks to Punch a Mime.'
    • Chapter 10, Punch Drunk
  • "Yes, terrible things happen, but sometimes those terrible things- they save you." p205
    • Chapter 11, Ritual
  • "What matters," Sister Vigilante says, "is, people need a monster they can believe in." A true horrible enemy. A demon to define themselves against. Otherwise, it's just us versus us.
    • Chapter 13, Civil Twilight
  • With the angel of death going door to door, people stayed together. They quit bitching and behaved.
    • Chapter 13, Civil Twilight
  • I lost my virginity through my ear.
    • Chapter 15, Anticipation
  • The whole idea of men creating perfect robot women for their own pleasure, it happens every day. The most "beautiful" women you see in public, none of them are for real. They're just men perpetuating their perverted stereotypes of women. Just the oldest story in the world. There's a penis on every page of Cosmopolitan magazine if you know where to look.
    • Chapter 15, Speaking Bitterness, A Story by Comrade Snarky
  • "We should forgive God..."

For making us short. Fat. Poor.

We should forgive God for our baldness. Our cystic fibrosis. Our juvenile leukemia.

We should forgive God's indifference, His leaving us behind:

Us, God's forgotten Science Fair project, left to grow mold.

God's goldfish, ignored until we're forced to eat our own shit off the bottom.

  • Chapter 19, Absolution
  • That's how a scary story works. It echoes some ancient fear. It recreates some forgotten terror. Something we'd like to think we're grown beyond. But it can still scare us to tears. It's something you'd hoped was healed.
    • Chapter 19, Hot Potting, A story by Baroness Frostbite
  • If there's a trick to doing a job you hate... Mrs. Clark says it's to find a job you hate even more.
    • Chapter 20, Cassandra, Another story by Mrs. Clarke
  • We love drama. We love conflict. We need a devil or we'll create one.
    • Chapter 20, Cassandra, Another story by Mrs. Clarke
  • "Telling a story is how we digest what happens to us," Mr Whittier says, "It's how we digest our lives. Our experiences."
    • Chapter 21
  • If we can forgive what's been done to us... If we can forgive what we've done to others... If we can leave our stories behind. Our being victims and villains. Only then can we maybe rescue the world.
    • Chapter 21
  • "I used to think the secret to a happy ending was to bring down the curtain at the exact right time. A moment after happiness, then everything's all wrong again." p76
  • "The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people. And maybe the reason vampires don’t die is because they can never see themselves in photographs or mirrors." p144
  • People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind. The same as the stories they tell. We trap ourselves.
  • Some stories, Mr.Whitter would say, you tell them and you use them up. Other stories, they use you up. p288
  • Some stories, you use up. Others use you up.
  • The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people. And maybe the reason vampires don’t die is because they can never see themselves in photographs or mirrors.
  • The world will always punish the few people with special talents the rest of us don’t recognize as real.
  • A book is as private and consensual as sex.
  • Leather shoes and fried chicken and dead soldiers are only a tragedy if you waste their gift sitting in front of the television. Or stuck in traffic. Or stranded at some airport.
  • That’s the American Dream: to make your life into something you can sell.
  • Their teeth white, as if they never used teeth for anything except to smile.
  • Some stories, she'd say, the more you tell them, the faster you use them up. Those kind, the drama burns off, and every version, they sound more silly and flat. The other kind of story, it uses you up. The more you tell it, the stronger it gets. Those kind of stories only remind you how stupid you were. Are. Will always be.
  • I used to think the secret to a happy ending was to bring down the curtain at the exact right time. A moment after happiness, then everything's all wrong, again.
  • "Until you can ignore your circumstances, and just do as you promise," he says, "you'll always be controlled by the world."
  • You will always have some excuse not to live your life.
  • Her dress, swimsuit-tight, leotard-tight, her pantyhose run with women pedaling bicycles going nowhere at a thousand calories an hour.

External links[edit]

Encyclopedic article on Haunted (Palahniuk novel) at Wikipedia

Works by Chuck Palahniuk
  Novels     Fight Club (1996) · Survivor (1999) · Invisible Monsters (1999) · Choke (2001) · Lullaby (2002) · Diary (2003) · Haunted (2005) · Rant (2007) · Snuff (2008) · Pygmy (2009) · Tell-All  
  (2010) · Damned (2011) · Invisible Monsters Remix (2012) · Doomed (2013) · Beautiful You (2014) · Make Something Up (2015)  
  Non‑fiction     Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (2003) · Stranger than Fiction: True Stories (2004)  
  Comic books     Fight Club 2 (2015–2016)  
  Film adaptations     Fight Club (1999) · Choke (2008)