Chuck Palahniuk received some surprising reactions to his new short my last novel, I read a short story called Guts for the first time in public. It’s a short story published on playboy magazine. Guts is actually 3 short stories, but the most relevant is the last one. I don’t recall having read anything else. NoSleep is a place for realistic horror stories. Everything is true here, even if it’s not. Please thoroughly read our rules and.
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T he Las Vegas library is way out on the edge of town, and there’s a very un-Vegas crowd gathered in the auditorium tonight.
Boys sporting tattoos and girls with kohl-dark eyes lounge around waiting for the action. The girl next to me skipped off work early to make it; the boy next to her drove five hours to be here. Chuck Palahniuk is in town to give a reading of Guts, the latest instalment in his gorefest celebration of all things unAmerican.
Actually, this is a fiction: Guts, a cautionary masturbation tale writ large, has all the expected Palahniuk ingredients – anatomical detail, suburban melodrama, violence and humour. It is in some sense more shocking than Fight Club, his novel later a film about a secret fraternity of young men who pummel each other half to death in illicit contests, and who gradually evolve into a terrorist unit. And it’s not even the most extreme one; but it’s the one that makes people pass out,” Palahniuk says.
I think that will be the book that erases Fight Club. Of course, this being Vegas, that’s not New Orleans, the well-known city in the south of the US, but the lesser known Orleans hotel on the fringes of the Vegas strip. Palahniuk, a shaven-headed figure in short-sleeved, salmon-pink shirt, white trousers and brown tasselled loafers, moves with the slightly rolling gait of the muscle-bound.
He looks nothing like his author photograph. The event begins that evening with the chief librarian, Moira, dressed in character in sensible shoes and skirt, asking, on behalf of the author, how many of the audience have never been to a public reading before.
I dare you | Books | The Guardian
Two-thirds of the or so people gathered hold up their hands. This much, Palahniuk had promised me. The evening ends with him asking the audience how many of them passed out. No hands go up. Some people point accusingly ppalahniuk a young man.
Beating a retreat
Others gesture towards a vacant seat. Chuck palauniuk a thing about Guts. Guts is so horrific, the story it tells so visceral, that it can actually cause physical harm. Guts, he says, can damage your health. He’s keeping a tally of the casualties from his readings: But in the venues where nobody passed out it’s typically because they ran from the room. And a lot of people will pass out after they get out of the venue.
They just don’t want to be seen publicly unconscious. They’ll go to the bathroom and pass out. This is the literary salon as drive-by shooting. Palahniuk is so convincing, so measured and forensic, that he has me scanning the audience, jotting an accusing note whenever someone goes to the bathroom. A charge seems to run through him as he stands at the lectern.
He ramps up the humour in Guts, and what seems a thoroughly gruesome story on the page turns into a comic juggernaut.
The candle story happened to a friend of mine in college. And then, when I was researching Choke [an earlier collection of stories, published in ], I was going to sex-addict support groups and a guy told me that story. Palahniuk says he is not interested in shock. To get to that romantic, touching, heartbreaking place, but through a lot of acts of profanity. Then, as if to demonstrate this blend of heartbreak and humour, he tells me what happened after his father was murdered five years ago.
His father was shot and his body burned by the ex-boyfriend of a woman he was dating. If one person started crying, everyone would start crying. And then somebody would find a prescription for Viagra and we’d all start laughing.
We’d be finding paalhniuk half-filled bottles of Viagra. One in each of the cars, one in the sofa cushions, one in the easy chair. And we’d be laughing and laughing and then we’d be crying again and then we’d find another bottle of Viagra and start laughing again.
Palahniuk is easy company. Chatty, witty, engaged, he sometimes seems to be trying just a little too hard to be nice. He doesn’t do drugs, he hates smokers, he is calm, measured and well-read – the antithesis of his characters. His approach to writing is methodical to the point of neurosis. He is an advocate of minimalism and talks consistently of the act of writing as “keying in” a story. His training as a journalist, and the research he puts into his stories, lead him to play down any suggestion of art in his work.
His status as chronicler of America’s underside has come at a price. And I was like, no, it’s just a book. And if I beat that drum, if I play that song one more time, I won’t have a career. Palahniuk’s next book, Fugitives And Refugees is that most quaint of things, a travel book – but it’s not quite the book his publishers hoped for. Instead, it is a series of essays, postcards and ruminations on the underbelly of his home town, Portland.
Yet beneath the profanities and the glitz of his new book, and indeed of Guts and almost all of his writing, there is a calm, spiritual Palahniuk fighting to get out. This side also struggles out in conversation, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways. Is Palahniuk having a little joke, or is the Iron John spirituality the real thing? Is Palahniuk, that most matter-of-fact writer-as-typewriter novelist, also that common beast, the unreliable narrator?