Monday, March 14, 2011

My Love Affair With Chuck Palahniuk's Angsty Goodness

If you've never read Fight Club, you've been living under a rock. Most people have seen the movie, which is lovely (bad adjective, but it kind of is), but if you read the book, you're likely to want to read more from Palahniuk, and then the magic happens. His books are glitter and blood and chalk-lines and and heroin all mixed together in a mess on the floor. Which is on fire. There are so many memorable lines in his writing, and pretty much all of it is dripping with angst.

"No matter how much you think you love somebody, you'll step back when the pool of their blood edges up too close." -Invisible Monsters

"The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person." -Invisible Monsters

"The truth is you can be orphaned again and again and again. The truth is, you will be. And the secret is, this will hurt less and less each time until you can't feel a thing. Trust me on this." -Survivor

“You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, then you throw it away. The condom, I mean. Not the stranger.” -Fight Club

"Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet." -Lullaby

"Music is crucial. Beyond no way can I overstress this fact. Let's say you're southbound on the interstate, cruising alone in the middle lane, listening to AM radio. Up alongside comes a tractor trailer of logs or concrete pipe, a tie-down strap breaks, and the load dumps on top of your little sheetmetal ride. Crushed under a world of concrete, you're sandwiched like so much meat salad between layers of steel and glass. In that last, fast flutter of your eyelids, you looking down that long tunnel toward the bright God Light and your dead grandma walking up to hug you--do you want to be hearing another radio commercial for a mega, clearance, closeout, blow-out liquidation car-stereo sale?" -Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

Go read a (messy-gorgeous-dark-and-twisty) book. Go.


  1. I read Fight Club in High School, Beautiful Monsters in College, and Choke recently. I'm not sure how I feel about Chuck Palahniuk. He's certainly worth reading once, he has a way of shattering illusions of love and immortality - forcing you to perceive the world differently, at least for a little while. I have issues with Chuck though. The first is that Fight Club's satire is too subtle. I've seen way too many people preaching the gospel of Tyler Duran, sadly (or stupidly) missing Palahniuk's message of moderation. But my other complaint is that he only has one (albeit interesting) voice. While his books vary somewhat on exactly what type of uncomfortable truths exist below the skin of society, and exactly what kind of support groups we find ourselves in, his books are nearly interchangeable. Besides a few short stories in Haunted (read "guts" if you haven't... or don't, it's pretty rough even by Palahniuk's measure), I haven't read more than three of his books, and yet I feel like there isn't anything else Palahniuk can write to me that I haven't already read.

    On a related note, I'm not sure if Panic(!) at the Disco is your style or not, but they are loaded with Palahniuk allusions, which I really enjoyed. Specifically:

    "Time To Dance" is completely based on the book "Invisible Monsters."
    "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines" also has several references to the book "Diary" by Chuck Palahniuk, such as "The weather today is..." which is a recurring phrase in the book.

    They also have a lot of other references...

    The title, "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage" is a quote from the book "Survivor" by Chuck Palahniuk.
    "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines" and "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" are quotes from the book "Shampoo Planet" by Douglas Copeland.
    "Camisado" has several references to "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk.
    "Build God, Then We'll Talk" is a quote from "Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk.
    "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and "But Its Better If You Do" are from the movie "Closer."
    "I Constantly Thank God For Esteban" is a quote from the movie "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou."

    Also - this is pretty cool -

  2. I definitely don't disagree with you. I think though, that if you're looking for that very particular voice he tells stories in, you can't do much better. Sometimes the way he makes his characters interact reminds me of stuff in the absurdist category (Daniil Kharms in particular comes to mind); one character whispers a confession and the the other starts shouting at lint drifting by and a third bangs his head in the corner. And somehow it all makes perfect sense.

    I was talking to somebody the other day about how all of Woody Allen's main characters seem to speak in his voice, whether or not Allen himself is in the movie. That's not to say that the STORIES Woody Allen tells are all told in the same voice, but I think there's something similar going on, and if you're looking for that Woody-Allen-Character who makes you slightly uncomfortable but who you know you kind of ARE, again, you can't do much better.

    I'd actually been told by a friend that Panic! at the Disco did a whole album in homage to Invisible Monsters- I'm not a fan, so I didn't investigate, and I have no idea if it's true, but either way, I'm glad they can (and do) read.