Beyond Fight Club: Featured Author, Chuck Palahniuk
(Previously published on June 15, 2018)
"The first rule of Fight Club is: you don't talk about Fight Club." Made popular by the movie of the same name, Chuck Palahniuk made his debut with Fight Club in 1996. Written as a response to his first manuscript an older version of what would become Invisible Monsters being rejected by his publisher, Fight Club is a story about the lost connection between men and society. And although Fight Club is Chuck Palahniuk's most famous work to date, he also has a personal connection to the Pacific Northwest and has a strong connection to the Oregon literary scene.
Chuck Palahniuk was born in Pasco, Washington in 1962. He was raised near Burbank, Washington, but went to live with his siblings on his grandparents' cattle ranch in 1976 after his parents' divorce. Palahniuk graduated from the University of Oregon, where he studied journalism. While his career in journalism might not have taken off, it was there that he learned to listen to others and to convey their stories. In a 2017 interview for MEL magazine, Palahniuk describes the correlation between his education and his eventual career.
"My job is to listen to people at parties and to identify their stories and to find a commonality in the pattern between them. Because when someone tells an anecdote that goes over well, it evokes other people to tell almost identical anecdotes from their own life. Then you choose the very best of these to demonstrate a very human dynamic. In a way, what I do isn't so much invent things as it is identifying them. Later, I just put them together in a report that looks like a novel."
Palahniuks writing style has been described as "dark," "satirical," and "transgressional." His works focus on characters feeling confined by society and societal norms. In addition to Fight Club, Palahniuk has published twenty fiction titles, including Damned, a story described as "The Breakfast Club in Hell" about a group of teenagers literally walking through hell. Invisible Monsters was published in 1999, and a remixed version was re-released in 2012. Palahniuk describes Invisible Monsters in the same MEL interview, explaining that "its all about that panicky feeling that this beautiful thing isn't going to be beautiful forever and that you've got to transition that beauty into a different, more lasting form of power."
Most recently, Palahniuk has been transitioning to graphic novels. Fight Club 2 was published as a graphic novel by local Portland powerhouse Dark Horse Comics (and according to his Twitter, another installment may be on the way). Palahniuk's newest book, Adjustment Day, was released by W.W. Norton.
As a native of the Pacific Northwest, Palahniuk has cemented himself into the local literary scene. He received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award and the Oregon Book Award for Fight Club, and six years later, his horror satire Lullaby was also a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award winner, as well as a nominee for the Bram Stoker Award.
Besides working closely with the comics scene in the Portland area, he's also an active member of a local writing group and has given numerous interviews about Portland culture and area hotspots. (He was on Anthony Bourdain's television show, No Reservations, where he led the chef through some popular Portland locations.) His love for Oregon has also influenced his writing, most noticeably in his nonfiction title Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon.
[To date, Palahniuk has published 19 novels, three nonfiction books, two graphic novels, and two adult coloring books, several short stories, and has had five of his novels adapted into movies.]
Palahniuk, a former resident of Portland, now lives in the Columbia River Gorge.
Palahniuk is very active on Twitter (@ChuckPalahniuk) and Facebook, interacting with both his fans and other writers. Connect with him there, and look for his books in your local libraries and bookstores!