Friday, September 15, 2006

Hardtalking Palahniuk

Was much impressed with Chuck Palahniuk on Hardtalk with Gary Esler, shown this afternoon on BBC World. He looked a little like Ralph Fiennes playing Oscar in Oscar and Lucinda, I thought. Gentle. A little geeky. Definitely fun. (The duck is so nice, I now desire the pate ... to mess about with Margaret Atwood's quote.)

Anyway, to make you happy I scribbled down some notes and here are some of the facts I learned about Palahniuk and his work:
  • He writes to entertain himself and is easily bored ... so he likes to shock.
  • He recalls doing public readings in bars where you had only 7 minutes to make the audience laugh and make them cry.
  • He says that reading books relies on the constant consent and effort of the consumer in a way which is not true of movies and TV.
  • People faint at readings of Haunted. At almost every venue there has been at least one person hit the floor.
  • At his readings people come up to him and tell him stories they have never told anyone before.
  • He says the success of Fight Club changed his life only in so far as it gave him permission to be with people (giving readings and talks).
  • He started writing when he joined a writer's group (for the friendship and free wine) for which the price of admission was a piece of work.
  • He wroteFight Club as a kind of male version of books like The Joy Luck Club, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood and How to Make an American Quilt which emphasise feminine solidarity. He wanted to write a similar book about something that pulled a group of men together to tell their stories.
  • He reckons a great deal of popular culture died after 9/11 as transgressional acts were no longer looked upon as being funny.
  • The film of Fight Club didn't do well when it was initially screened in cinemas. It began to sell well as a DVD, when news about it spread from person to person on the internet.
  • Fight Club sold to the kind of people who normally wouldn't set foot in a bookstore. A record number of copies were stolen.
  • He loves readings, which he sees as an excuse for people to come together.
  • He says that his narrative technique is based on oral story telling. Too many people read stories as if they are written on the page. They should learn things like timing, delivery and rhetoric from stand-up comedians.
  • His sense of horror probably springs from family events. His grandfather shot his grandmother and then committed suicide. As children, he and his siblings used to sleep in the room where the murder took place. His father was murdered by the ex-husband of his girlfriend who is now on death row, threatening that he has planted anthrax bombs and they will explode if he is executed.
  • When people tell me I'm extreme, Palahniuk says, they have no idea how extreme these things really are.


madcap machinist said...

I saw Fight Club before I read it... I didn't buy one... erm, borrowed it from a friend and kept it for 2 years.

And I also enjoyed Choke.

Since your notes certainly fits how imagine Chuck would be, I think you'd enjoy the pate...

The Visitor said...

Fight Club is the most misunderstood film ever.

bibliobibuli said...

explain, visitor ...

btw - do you have the dvd? can borrow ah?

Greenbottle said...

i watched the bbc program and i found him very fascinating...for some reason he reminded me of david byrne of the talking heads ...may be his looks and demeanor...

i saw 'haunted' in the last times warehouse sales but didn't get excited enough to buy it and i saw stacks of it again at last week's sales and this time i bought it...solely because i found his interview very fascinating...and just staring on it...wierd stuff...

synical said...

I think I've pretty much read most of his books (Fight Club, Invisible Monsters, Survivor, Lullaby, Diary, Non-Fiction and the new one Haunted). I don't have my hands on Choke yet.

I honestly liked Fight Club the movie and hope that there are more decent movie adaptations of his work.

I also saw copies of Haunted at the Times warehouse sales, but as I already have a hardcover copy from a fellow Bookcrosser in Kentucky, I didn't feel the need to (not yet, anyway). Didn't like the cover also.

P.S. I enjoy the blog very much :)

bibliobibuli said...

greenbottle - yes, fascinating. a guy you'd like to sit down and talk to for a long time.

how come i always miss the best books at warehouse sales (i got "haunted" in paperback from borders a few weeks back but would have snapped up a cheap h/b copy in the blink of an eye)

synically_jaded (and every time i see that nick i keep thinking aren't you too young to be both cynical and jaded??) - the bookscrossing sounds fun ... how do you manage it across the world??

Anonymous said...

Chuck is sooo cool~~~
Geek chic cool!
I also love the fact when he cited other transgressive books, like Trainspotting , American Psycho and Clockwork Orange, these are some of the best films I've ever seen.


Jordan said...

His father was murdered by the ex-husband of his girlfriend and is now on death row...

A corpse on death row? Hasn't he been punished enough? Hahaha...

bibliobibuli said...

chee - "geek chic" - exactly the term to use about him. thanks for reminding me of waht he said about other transgressive films ... i wasn't fast enough to scribble down all the titles. haven't seen 'american psycho' but love 'trainspotting' and 'clockwork orange'. (i'm old enough to have seen 'clockwork orange' the week it opened at the cineama and all the crhristian groups campaigning outside to have it banned.)

jordan - oops! corrected. (*blush*)

Argus Lou said...

Dear book-buying, best bloggin' Bib, I'm sorry to be the one to point out Chuck's surname is spelt Palahniuk (you got it right in the last para though!).

I only know this because he is like only one of my fav authors, an inspiration and a delicious, wicked example of how to write well with as few words as possible. Study his sentences; most of them are short. Look at his verbs; they don't need adjectives.

I loved his philosophy in Fight Club. The only book of his I haven't got my hands on is 'Lullaby'. His non-fiction is just as crazy and bizarre as his fiction. Try his sorta-travelbook, 'Fugitives & Refugees: A Walk Through Portland, Oregon', and his non-fiction book named 'Non-Fiction' (!).

My new mix-breed dog is called Nico by the shelter folk. They say I can change his name but, no, thanks. He is now named after Chuck Palah-Nico!

Ya, ya, as usual I'm nutty as muesli.

synical said...

You should check out if you've got the chance. I got it sent to me when I was in the States last year and then I brought it back here.

The Visitor said...

How Fight Club The Film Has Been Largely Misunderstood

By The Visitor

I haven't read the book so i don't know what the hell is in there. but many ppl have read the film as an incitement to be anti-establishment. but it's not. it really shows you that whatever anti-establishment movement is also an establishment in nature. pro, anti, what the hell. everyone's just being silly.


... in the end, both pro (Jack) and anti (Tyler Durden) are standing there together, but the damage has been done. the world is going to the dogs around them. there's a reason why Jack and Tyler are one and the same person.

The Visitor said...

oh and yes, i do have the DVD, the two-disc edition in fact.

i lend you.

bibliobibuli said...

argus lou - many thanks for pointing out the spelling error. i am midly dyslexic and my fingers even more so! (and why does the guy have to have such an unusual name ... and hasn't getting the spelling of Ondaatje right taken up all my brain cells?)

visitor - thanks for the explanation. yes, want to borrow the dvd's. may drop by your office lah before end of the week as i have a book to drop off for one of your colleagues ...