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Literature / Pygmy

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Quote fascist tyrant, lunatic emperor Adolf Hitler, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."

Pygmy is a novel by Chuck Palahniuk published in 2009. It is the story of agent number 67, operative Pygmy, who is one of several teen superspies from a totalitarian, anti-American regime sent as foreign exchange students to an unnamed Midwestern suburb. Their plan: Operation Havoc, where they will ingrain themselves with their new families and then, in the guise of a science fair project, launch a terrorist attack dedicated to killing millions of Americans and toppling the US government. Lots of squick, bloodshed, buxom teen girls, and violent man-rape ensue. Have fun.

Pygmy contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Pygmy thinks of his host family as animals — cow father, chicken mother, pig dog brother and cat sister.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The lurid sex and violence spread throughout the book is all played for dark comedy.
  • Clear Their Name: Towards the end, Pygmy helps get his host dad, Donald Cedar, released from jail.
  • Commie Nazis: Pygmy's home country is not named, nor its politics explicated, but its ideological heroes include Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky, and Eva Perón.
  • Cyanide Pill: All agents have a deadly cyanide capsule implanted in a back molar.
  • Eagle Land: America as Pygmy experiences it is America the Boorish, full of ignorant Bible-thumping jerkasses.
  • Epistolary Novel: Narrated by Pygmy in the form of the reports he sends back home.
  • Eye Scream: Pygmy nearly rips out his host father's good eye while trying to steal his glass one.
  • Going Native:
    • By the novel's conclusion, operative Pygmy aborts his mission, renounces his native state, and begins life as an American.
    • Also implied to be the case for operative Magda.
  • Hiding in a Hijab: This is how Trevor Stonefield smuggles guns into the Model United Nations meeting.
  • High-School Dance: Pygmy attends several of these over the course of the novel. In each one, his growing profile as a hero causes him to get more offers to dance from girls.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Pygmy's homeland reveres many famous political leaders such as Benito Mussolini, Mao Tse-Tung, etc. viewed as tyrants and criminals by the wicked United States.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: The narrator's indoctrination causes him to not understand American culture, resulting in much of the humor. For example, his description of the ritual called "dodge of balls".
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The novel is narrated entirely in Engrish (except when the narrator is directly quoting one of the American characters).
    Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67, on arrival Midwestern American airport...
  • It's Personal: Pygmy's parents were murdered by an American bomb in his nation's capital.
  • Instant Fan Club: Pygmy stops an attempted school massacre by Trevor Stonefield and becomes a hero of the media and the native teenagers, acquiring a devoted female following. This causes him to start doubting his mission to destroy America.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Part of the mission is to create new operatives by seducing American students. The operatives are however not taught about "contraceptives", hindering the plan.
  • New Transfer Student: All the operatives enter the US as foreign exchange students and take up residence with local host families.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Operative Pygmy is attracted to his host sister.
  • Pedophile Priest: Reverend Tony is implied to have raped Magda. Cat sister says that he's hit on most of the teenage girls in his church, including her.
  • Rape and Switch: Operative Pygmy brutally sodomizes a bully named Trevor in a bathroom stall as revenge for harassing him, causing him to grow sexually attracted to Pygmy. This may be some kind of commentary on this phenomenon in fiction, since Palahniuk himself is gay and has written several gay characters before.
  • Science Fair: Operation Havoc entails the operatives traveling to the national science fair in Washington, D.C. in order to carry out a terrorist attack.
  • Shout-Out: A young repressed gay character named Trevor is killed by the protagonist Pygmy. This is a shout out to Palahniuk's earlier novel Survivor (1999), where a young gay character named Trevor kills himself after being encouraged to do so by the protagonist Tender Branson.
  • Spell My Name with a Blank: At the beginning, the agent reports back to his controllers that on the date —— he arrived successfully in the greater —— area of the USA, on Flight ——.
  • Spurned into Suicide: Trevor Stonefield goes on a rampage at school after Pygmy rejects him, hoping that he will be killed.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Trevor pulls a gun on Pygmy and demands he keep their conversation secret or else he'll kill himself, much to Pygmy's bemusement.
  • Teen Superspy: The Villain Protagonists, including the title character, are a group of teen superspies sent to America by a totalitarian commie-Nazi regime with a mission to destroy the US government.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the final battle at the novel's conclusion, Pygmy's host brother is able to fight many operatives with combat techniques learned from Pygmy.
  • Weapons Kitchen Sink: Pygmy's home country possesses advanced military tools obtained from many countries.
  • Wild Teen Party: The Model UN club is little more than a pretext for the kids at school to hook up, take drugs, and have sex on school grounds.
  • You No Take Candle: The entire novel is written in pidgin English, to reflect the fact that it's presented as Pygmy's reports of his activities and that his grasp on the English language is poor.