Everyone knows Fight Club. Probably more know the very successful movie than the fact that it was originally a story and then a novel by a then unsuccessful young writer, Chuck Palahniuk. Since Fight Club, Palahniuk has published a long list of works, most which can be best described as transgressional fiction. Here at ACOR we like transgressional fiction and have therefore read a great number of Palahniuk’s novels.
But how good is this author? How important is his work?
Chuck Palahniuk has been viciously criticized for writing the crudest juvenile gross-out novels, each new one attempting to outdo the sleaze and degradation of the earlier works. But if your forte is sleaze and degradation, isn’t it a positive sign that you are investigating more imaginative scenarios to shock and disgust your readers?
Who is more shocking, Chuck Palahniuk or Carlton Mellick III?
I say it is Palahniuk since his novels generally depict a real world that is in someway twisted, whereas Mellick starts with the twist and expands it to it’s bizarro conclusion.
Palahniuk wrote an interesting and not very traditional view of the underworld in the novel Damned. All that wandering around Hell seemed a bit tedious to me. But then Palahniuk published what was ostensibly a continuation of Damned, titled Doomed. Since I had already tired of wandering around in Hell, even if it was a somewhat fresh look at damnation, I kept Doomed on my reading list until I just couldn’t stand to see it constantly being shuffled to the back of the pool.
So I read it and it wasn’t anything like Damned. Here the twist is that Satan has a multi-generational plot to take over the world and defeat God. The plot eventually involves a fat dead girl of a rich and privileged family, a religion that is set up to spoof salvation but deliver damnation, and the huge mass of plastic debris pooling up in the Pacific Ocean. So demons, ghosts, and styrofoam cups: what will be the fate of the world?
You might not like Chuck Palahniuk and even if you do, you’re not going to like every novel: they vary from sublime to very good and include a few clunkers. But if you enjoy collecting instances of inane prose and often silly writing, Palahniuk may just be for you.
Here is the list from Wikipedia:
Fight Club (1996)
Invisible Monsters (1999)
Invisible Monsters Remix (2012)
Beautiful You (2014)
Make Something Up (2015)
Fight Club 2 (2015–16) (graphic novel with Cameron Stewart)
“Negative Reinforcement” in Modern Short Stories (1990)
“The Love Theme of Sybil and William” in Modern Short Stories (1990)
“Insiders” in Best Life (2007)
“Cold Calling” unpublished (2007)
“Love Nest” unpublished (2007)
“Mister Elegant” in VICE Magazine (2007)
“Fetch” in Dark Delicacies III (2009)
“Loser” in Stories (2010)
“Knock, Knock” in Playboy (2010)
“Romance” in Playboy (2011)
“Cannibal” in Playboy (2013)
“Zombie” in Playboy (2013)
“Let’s See What Happens” in Nightmare Magazine, Issue 37 (2015)
Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (2003)
Stranger than Fiction: True Stories (2004)
You Do Not Talk About Fight Club: I Am Jack’s Completely Unauthorized Essay Collection (2008) (introduction)
Fight Club (1999) (feature based on the novel)
Choke (2008) (feature based on the novel)
Romance (2012) (short based on the novel)
Lullaby (TBD) (feature based on the novel)
Rant (TBD) (feature based on the novel)