Sunday, October 24, 2010


Chuck Palahniuk has a scholarly look but beefy arms and a muscular body which may explain FIGHT CLUB. Unafraid to plunge into sordid reality with subversive and perverse ideas he uses very little description and there's not a cliché in sight. He’s funny too, in a dark, anarchic way.  He can also horrify you, break your heart and make you think. No matter how weird, bizarre or disturbing a setting he creates, the reader is there in it, feeling the textures, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds: the dank, rotting house in FIGHT CLUB, the dusty wine cellar in TELL-ALL, the asylum in CHOKE.

His "Minimalist transgressional fiction" is refreshingly different.
I hate violence so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed FIGHT CLUB.  The protagonist is a tortured, conflicted soul, insecure and desperate, his violent and non-violent sides fighting each other. Maybe that’s what made the physical fighting tolerable. A thinking man’s violence? Plus, I learned how to make soap out of lipo-sucked fat. The FIGHT CLUB film was remarkably faithful to the book and I think director David Fincher owes a lot of his reputation to Chuck Palahniuk.

There’s a sturdy plot with lots of subversion and anarchy in the books I've read and I couldn’t help liking the characters, identifying with them. They struggle so mightily. I felt for them, I was them. And I was sorry to let them go at the end.

CHOKE is full of original  ideas and themes.
See this extract:
“A blind chicken with half a head and no wings, shit smeared all over it, stumbles up against my boot , and when I reach down to pet it, the thing’s shivering inside its feathers.  It makes a soft clucking, cooing sound that’s almost a purr. It’s nice to see something more pathetic than I feel right now.”
Jonathan Franzen could never write that.
Palahniuk manages not to bore the pants off us with esoteric terms, inside knowledge and research on how the plastic I.D. bracelets worn in an insane asylum work, what it’s like to be a costumed character in a 1737 colonial village, a sex-addict, or Jesus.

I’ve only read three of his books so far and, even though RANT (which I haven’t yet read) didn't get rave reviews and I found TELL-ALL irritating, I still want to read the rest of the Palahniuk oeuvre:
     and to see future films based on Palahniuk books:
•    Invisible Monsters (2010)
•    Haunted (2010)
•    Survivor (2011)
•    Rant, optioned property
•    Diary, optioned property
•    Lullaby, optioned property
•    Snuff, rights bought by a French company


Helen Smith said...

CP is wonderful, isn't he? I particularly liked Survivor and Fight Club - I think those are the first two of his that I read.

Nora Lumiere said...

I'm thinking of changing my name to Stieg Palahniuk.