This was a seriously disturbing novel. I imagine it was much like what the movie Saw
was like (I've never seen it) except these people are doing it to themselves. While it was an interesting read I don't think it was believable. I have no problem believing that there are people so desperate for fame and attention that they'd mutilate themselves and commit other horrible acts, I'm just not sure those are the people who would show up for a writer's retreat. And I don't buy that all of the people who signed up would be that severely damaged/insane (does [author: Chuck Palahniuk] think all writers are damaged in some way?) Surely there must have been at least one sane person there, one person who would object to the horror.
The stories about the past were interesting to read, as were the poems. And I thought Whitier's reason for setting things up were both believable and interesting.