WEDNESDAY

Satellite television, blockbuster movies, the Internet, and alcohol should have long since made the dread that accompanies a rainy day obsolete. But modern conveniences haven’t obliterated boredom so much as quantified ways of being bored. Chuck Palahniuk knows all about boredom—not just the rainy-day type but the general sense of ennui that has roots in the round-the-clock hum of consumer culture and its overabundance of choices. The more appalling the fare, the better, as far as he’s concerned. Palahniuk’s latest novel, Haunted, attempts to satirize the celebration of shock as an end in itself: Twenty-three writers respond to an ad headlined “Writers’ Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months.” They lock themselves in the ornate theater where they’ve convened and deprive themselves of most amenities and even food, figuring that once they’re found, their stories will bring them fame and fortune. But as the situation grows more desperate, so do the writers, whose prose and poems are interspersed with accounts of the horrors they commit against themselves and each other—including acts of cannibalism. So much for being bored. Palahniuk reads at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 1, at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor. Free. (Books provided by Olsson’s Books and Records) (202) 662-7129. (Chris Hagan)