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Author Chuck Palahniuk
The author of Fight Club talks about his new book

By Dan Frazier
posted: Tuesday, 08 May 2007

Most people can tell you the rules of Fight Club, but most people can’t tell you who originally wrote them.  The film adaptation of author Chuck Palahniuk’s first novel may be more popular than his name, but that doesn’t stop the writer from gathering a strong cult following that is renown for getting his signature tattooed on their bodies.  Palahniuk gained some more national attention when his short story “Guts” caused people to faint or vomit when he read it aloud at public readings (he quit keeping count after 70 or so). His eighth book, Rant, is written in the form of an oral history which sets up a selection of interview styled monologues that collectively tell the story of Buster Casey -- a deceased deviate that partook in a demolition derby type subculture called “Party Crashing” which centers around people purposely crashing cars into each other.  And if you think that sounds bizarre, here Palahniuk tells Frazier that the best is yet to come.

DF: Do you ever think you will be able to write another story that will cause such a strong reaction as “Guts”?

CP: Yes, because when I first wrote Fight Club, I was sure I would never write anything such as strong. So every time I do write something, there is that fear, but I’ve sort of gotten past that fear enough times to know that there will always be a stronger idea. It comes along.

DF: Can you tell me why your newest book, Rant, is written in an oral history format?

CP: Pretty much all of my books find some non-fiction form and use that to tell some over the top incredible story.  [Movies such as] Citizen Kane, Fargo, and The Blair Witch Project tell really over the top elaborate stories but are being made believable by using non-fiction forms and Rant is basically using a nonfiction form; which is the oral biography.  I’ve been in love with this form [of storytelling] and I love these kind of books such as Edie [by Jean Stein] about Edie Sedgwick. It just occurred to me this would make a great form for a novel. If you don’t have to allow transition, you can just cut directly from one story to another and just cut all the narratives very much like a film does.

DF: Did cinema or documentaries have a direct influence on this novel’s peculiar format?

CP: Yes, very much.  I’ve been watching pretty much nothing but documentaries to see how editors cut together different bits of a spoken story and then using those different forms to tell an ongoing story.

DF: Where did you find your inspiration about this hobby your characters in Rant take part in called “party crashing”?

CP: I know people in Portland who do it and I think there are people in California who started doing it too.  It’s kind of one of these spin off things from [the festival] Burning Man where their trying to create a hortatory subculture event in smaller venues in a more secretive way.  Also, everybody has a car wreck story.  It has become such an universal experience in people’s lives that when someone tells their car accident story, everybody else in the same setting whether it’s a bar or a party, will also have to tell their car accident story.

DF: Your books always carry a large amount of interesting facts and statistics. Is this information always true?

CP: I had to make up some statistics that I used in a short story called “Civil Twilight.” It’s a story about mysterious killings that are taking place in a city and I had to make up how while Jack the Ripper was on the loose crime rates in the city dropped. But nobody really kept those type of statistics in that point of history. It makes me feel guilty but that’s the only place I’ve had to invent statistics. 99 percent of the facts in my books are true.  Once you start inventing statistics, there’s no point in doing the research and I love doing the research so much that I don’t want to throw that part of the job away.

DF: Most of your novels’ movie rights have been bought.  Do you think Rant is adaptable for the big screen?

CP: We’ve had a bunch of negotiations for Rant. It’s going to be the first of three books on the same sort of theme and the movie production people want to see at least outlines on the next two books in the series because nobody wants to buy the rights of the first of three and not be able to control the rights to the second and third books.  So I really have to sell Rant as a three-book package. So once I’m able to present those people with a product outline for the next two books, then we’ll sell.

DF: Can you tell us what your next novel will be about?

CP: The next one is called Snuff and it’ll come out a year from now.  It’s about the filming of one of those world’s largest gangbang porn movies.  It’s about three guys who are waiting their turn to get called onto the set. You find out their back-stories like why they are there and what is their real motive for being there.  My editor had dared me to write another fast funny dark little book.  So this is just a real fast dirty funny little book.

DF: After reading some of your work, what do you think people would be most surprised to learn about you?

CP: The biggest shock is when people see me.  I’m a very plain boring looking person. It’s kind of heartbreaking to meet people when they’re kind of expecting a cross between Charles Manson and God knows what and then they meet somebody who looks like a bank teller.

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Thanks for this interview! I love Chuk's work so much! His books are my koran, my bible and my tora! its nothing but the truth....
Posted by: Guenal Fri 06, 2008 04:58 PM

Chuck is my hero. I'm halfway through my second reading of Invisible Monsters. I think its my favorite.
Posted by: Heather Feinstein Tue 16, 2008 08:57 PM


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