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Stranger Than Fiction: True Storiesby Chuck Palahniuk
"Throughout the book, Palahniuk's lucid prose is winning. Still....Palahniuk shows but doesn't tell, and after a while it gets annoying. Are we presupposed to know what Palahniuk thinks about his subject matter? As a guy who tends to root for male writers, I'm sorry to say that we probably already do." Tom Chiarella, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Chuck Palahniuk's world has always been, well, different from yours and mine. In his first collection of nonfiction, Chuck Palahniuk brings us into this world, and gives us a glimpse of what inspires his fiction.
At the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival in Missoula, Montana, average people perform public sex acts on an outdoor stage. In a mansion once occupied by The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson reads his own Tarot cards and talks sweetly to his beautiful actress girlfriend. Across the country, men build their own full-size castles and rocketships that will send them into space. Palahniuk himself experiments with steroids, works on an assembly line by day and as a hospice volunteer by night, and experiences the brutal murder of his father by a white supremacist. With this new direction, Chuck Palahniuk has proven he can do anything.
"This collection from shock novelist Palahniuk (Choke; Lullaby) is an eye-opening look at the raw material that goes into Palahniuk's fiction, as well as proof that the novelist's art is derived from keen observation and recording of details. Often these are as grotesque as a closeup in a horror film (e.g., in talking to a group of wrestlers enduring Olympic tryouts, Palahniuk focuses on their injuries, both physical and emotional). Half the essays are magazine assignments and include insightful profiles of rock star Marilyn Manson, indie-movie queen Juliette Lewis and a high schooler who wants to explore space via a homemade rocket. Others offer the author's impressions of a demolition derby, the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival and life aboard the USS Louisiana. Palahniuk often philosophizes, dwelling on the effects his fiction has had on 'reality,' especially the obsession his fans have had with his novel Fight Club. Palahniuk is fixated on the transformation of life's raw material into fiction and the writing process itself, which he sees as having the potential for self-fulfillment. (Incidentally, Brad Pitt, who played Fight Club's protagonist, emerges as Palahniuk's alter ego, and a number of the essays play on this theme, creating a patchwork memoir.) Palahniuk's fans will undoubtedly revel in the secrets the author reveals. Newcomers might initially feel queasy, but they're likely to warm up to his visceral prose and come to enjoy it. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Unlike his novels...this collection...suggests that Palahniuk actually likes humanity — or at least some parts of it....Dolorous yet exhilarating dispatches from the edge." Kirkus Reviews
"[T]he best narratives here — particularly a lengthy one on Americans who build European-style castles — show Palahniuk's deep compassion for oddballs and misfits, a hard-boiled kindness for which his fans revere him." John Green, Booklist
"Full of wonderful moments....Palahniuk's voice is so distinctive and intimate — he writes as though he is recounting a great story to a close friend." Los Angeles Times
"Step into Palahniuk's dark worldview and watch for what crawls out. These stories are true to him and no one else." The Oregonian
"Rarely does a collection of essays continually resonate with a main theme and accumulate a weight that would lead you to call it a great book. But I have to say this is a pretty great book." Seattle Times
"[A]n uneven collection....But Mr. Palahniuk's candor and humor can get him through just about anything; each piece here is studded with small but priceless grace notes from an exceptionally droll and sharp-eyed observer." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[A] grab bag of barely edited nonfiction pieces....Chapters about Palahniuk's murderous grandfather and his fondness for Brad Pitt's lips should sate biographical completists. (Grade: D)" Noah Robischon, Entertainment Weekly
"One of the oddest and most oddly compelling collections to come along for some time....There's great stuff here: action, cultural criticism, even philosophy...invoked in an attempt to understand this strange American life." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Stranger Than Fiction is disappointing because Palahniuk is a much better writer than what we see in this collection. Most writers are not proficient in more than one genre, and Palahniuk is no exception." BookReporter.com
"[Palahniuk] has formidable journalistic skills...an instinct for good stories; an ear for telling quotes; a clear, direct, sometimes staccato style; and a willingness to let the facts...speak for themselves, rather than passing judgment or showing how clever he can be." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"Some of the pieces fall flat....Most of the time Palahniuk nails his subjects, even as — and especially when — they provide alternate angles." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"Eccentric, idiosyncratic, and often entertaining." The Onion
"In Chuck Palahniuk's world, the ride is fast, often disturbing, and there is never any holding back." The New Orleans Times-Picayune
Whether discussing his father's murder or encounters with cult figures like Marilyn Manson, each vignette in Palahniuk's first collection of nonfiction offers a unique glimpse into the life of a daring and original literary talent.
About the Author
Chuck Palahniuk's six novels are the bestselling Diary, Choke, Lullaby, and Fight Club — which was made into a film by director David Fincher — Survivor, and Invisible Monsters. He is also the author of a nonfiction profile of Portland, Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journeys series. His most recent novel is Haunted. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
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