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Stuffing only what they need into one suitcase, seventeen people board a bus for what promises to be the most creative three months of their lives.

Each character tells their story as they are instructed to write the next great American novel during the three month writing retreat. From Lady Baglady talking about pretending to be a homeless person just to get out of the boredom of interacting with her rich friends to Sister Vigilante who speaks of religion and carries around a bowling ball with which she may or may not have killed someone.

Haunted has an unconventional construction. Each chapter has three parts: a story about the retreat and a specific writer, a poem by an unknown author about each participant, and a story which the writer wrote.

This writers’ retreat seems like the perfect deal for a writer. A place where there is nothing to do but write, enough food and water to last, and electricity, bedrooms, bathrooms, and clothes. It’s the perfect environment for the next great novel to be written. That is until each writer gets the idea that they must upstage the next writer with what they do. Everyone is sure everyone else has an ulterior motive so food gets destroyed, water dumped out, electricity shut off, and self-inflicted amputation ensues. They all must survive unbearable conditions while trying to write.

Haunted is one of Palahniuk’s darkest funniest novels. It houses his most infamous story, Guts, which is known to make audience members at book readings pass out. This novel will make you think before sending yourself or a loved one away to a retreat. Will you come back fully intact?

Have you read Guts lately?