chuck palahniuk

Five Reasons You Should be Reading Chuck Palahniuk

Five reasons you should be reading Chuck Palahniuk:

His Books Have Wonderfully Weird Formats

Some examples:

Rant, which is told in the form of an oral biography, meaning the (already dead) title character is the only person who doesn’t get a voice.

Haunted, which alternates between short stories and the main tale.

Diary, which is written, well, like a diary.

Palahniuk certainly has a way of finding new methods to tell a story. It’s more than a little impressive.

 

His Books All Have Wonderfully Weird Subject Matter

Some examples:

Survivor, the story of a surviving member of a death cult who is suddenly raised to celebrity status.

Choke, the tale of a sex addict who purposefully chokes on food in restaurants.

Rant, wherein a small-town boy moves to the big city, hangs out with people who crash cars for fun, and continues to spread rabies like wildfire.

You pretty much have to go in with an open mind, no matter which of his books you choose. You’re going to go on a wild ride.

 

His Non-Fiction is as Good as His Fiction

Palahniuk tells good stories. It’s his gift. What amazes me is his ability to turn a completely true story into a work as beautiful, strange, and literary as his fiction.

In Stranger than Fiction, he writes about everything from meeting Marilyn Manson and a real-life testicle festival to his experiences with death and working as a hospice volunteer. The book has three parts; “People Together”, where people find interesting ways to be together; “Portraits”, interviews with famous people; and “Personal”, which are stories from his own life.

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a travelogue about Portland, Oregon. Which, bt dubs, I lived there for years and it’s possibly the best place in America. Palahniuk manages to capture the weirdness that is Portland so perfectly. The book has personal, autobiographical stories, and mentions of his favorite places in Portland. We go to sex clubs and underground tours, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

 

He’s Not Afraid to Write From Any Point of View

Writing in first person, a lot of people stick to what they know. Palahniuk writes from seemingly any perspective with ease. In Invisible Monsters, it’s a model who has had half of her face eaten by birds. In Diary, a woman who tortures her husband (who happens to be in a coma). Damned, a young girl who has died and gone to hell. Rant, twenty-or-so narrators, each less reliable than the last, that range from a kinda-sorta prostitute to a run-of-the-mill car salesman.

 

He’s Got Guts

When Palahniuk wrote Haunted, he wanted to tell a different kind of horror story. One about everyday events and people. It really, honestly made me see the world as a much scarier place for a little while. Maybe that’s not what you need, but maybe reading (or any art) shouldn’t be about giving us what we need. Palahniuk read one short story, the first from Haunted, aloud in many a crowd. “Guts”. If you read it, you will never forget it. At the last count I’m aware of, 67 people had fainted while listening to him read “Guts”.

Here’s what Chuck had to say about it:

“My goal was to write a new form of horror story, something based on the ordinary world, without supernatural monsters or magic. Guts, and the book that contained it, would be a trapdoor down into some place dark. A place only you could go, alone. Only books have that power.

A film has to maintain a certain decorum in order to be broadcast to a vast audience. No one really gives a damn about books. No one has bothered to ban a book in decades. With that disregard comes the freedom that only books have. And Guts is by no means the darkest or funniest or most upsetting story in the novel Haunted. Some, I don’t dare read in public.”

 

 

Go out and grab a Palahniuk! I promise, you’ll never forget your first.



9 Reasons you should be reading Sarah Dessen Books

Nine Reasons You Should be Reading Sarah Dessen

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Nine reasons you should be reading Sarah Dessen’s novels:

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

She Writes YA

but you definitely don’t have to be in the YA age range to love her books. If anything, she’s proof that that’s a silly idea. I read my first of her novels, This Lullaby, when I was fifteen. I loved it and felt an obsessive need to get my hands on more of her stuff, even though I was a few years away from the drama Remy dealt with in the novel. That is only stronger in reverse. Now I’m 8-11 years away from her protagonists in the opposite direction, and I’m obsessed with them. It probably has something to do with…

Nostalgia

Which, honestly, is pure magic. Here’s why: I am a mother. For the past five-ish years, my summers have been filled with, “Oh god, school is out, he’s going to be home ALL THE TIME.” Speaking of which, y’all, summer vacation starts in two weeks and DEAR GOD WHY. Anyway, I have been a mother to that amazing, beautiful, annoying little boy since I was sixteen. I never even had the kind of summers Dessen writes about. She manages to make me nostalgic for a place and time and existence I’ve never actually experienced. It definitely helps that…

Everything is set in Colby

Well, not everything. But most of her books are set in Colby, a fictitious beach town that feels more real than half the places I’ve actually been. The town is like another character. A full, well-developed character that you can’t help but fall in love with. I feel like I’ve shopped at Clementine’s and eaten at Last Chance. So the town is a kick-ass secondary character, and then we have…

The main characters

Who are wonderful. Every one is a distinct individual. She writes first person, but there’s no confusing the leading ladies. They speak and think and behave differently, which is exactly how it should be. Each has her own plans, feelings, and agency. Which is why they are…

Strong female characters

These girls are amazing in that they’re all delightfully flawed and real. I will be honest in saying I have not personally tested it, but I would bet my left elbow that every novel of Dessen’s passes the Bechdel test. Is there pretty much always a love story? Yes. But there’s so much more than that, too. They worry about realistic things like high school or college, parental divorce, their height, their weird aunt, basketball, sex. That’s not to mention…

The really tough topics

And Dessen pulls exactly zero punches. Rape, physical abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders… she talks about all of these in realistic ways. I would find it hard to believe if she’d never taken any shit for writing about these things. But that’s the point, she doesn’t write about teenagers the way we think they should behave. She writes about them exactly as they are. It would be difficult to find a teenager who hasn’t struggled with one or more of these. And then there’s…

Love

And I don’t think we give enough credit to teenagers for how fucking hard it is to be in love. What I love about the way Dessen tackles relationships is that they’re so realistic. The kids don’t meet one time and go, “Oh my god, this is it, this is it forever.” She gives every romantic relationship realistic time to develop. It makes it that much more exciting when they finally do show their feelings, when Annabel and Owen finally kiss. Because it doesn’t feel rushed or impossible. It feels real. It makes you love the characters and their relationships so much more. And that’s why the funnest part is how…

The characters make cameos in her other novels

Not always by name. Sometimes it’s something so simple, you’d only catch it if you’d read the other book. As simple as being in Last Chance and seeing a “pretty girl with a lip ring.” And you’re like, “I KNOW HER.” It is so exciting, to hear about the characters you still love so dearly. And all of these things are only made cooler when you realize…

Sarah Dessen herself is just freaking awesome

I follow her on Twitter, and I’ve read many a blog post and interview of hers. She seems like such a phenomenal person. Through social media she’s told a lot about herself in unflinching detail, and it’s amazing to have that kind of honesty in someone that so many look up to.

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

 

You can read a recent review with Sarah Dessen here.

Here are links to a few of my favorite of her books, in case you’d like to get them on Amazon! *I only link up books I give 5 stars and have 100% faith in*