Chuck Palahniuk is an American author born on February 21, 1962. He is known most for writing the novel Fight Club
, which the movie was based on, and has since then garnered a respectable following. He has a minimalist writing style that utilizes a limited vocabulary, short sentences, and is meant to mimic the way an average person would talk when relaying a story to someone else. His stories typically start close to the end, with the protagonist recounting how he got there
, the events of which might also be told out of chronological order
His earlier works fall under the label Transgressional Fiction, while his later works contain more horror elements. Many people feel that his work is overly nihilistic and cynical
, and have labeled him a shock writer. Palahniuk does not believe that his work is in any way cynical or nihilistic, and has gone on record referring to himself as a Romantic—presumably the old Chivalric Romance
.His body of work includes:
- 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)
- Choke (2008)
- Invisible Monsters (2011)
- Haunted (TBA)
An adaptation of Survivor
has been attempted, but due to its similarities with the events of September 11, 2001
, they decided to put the project on hold, and to this day it never came to fruition.
Tropes found in Chuck Palahniuk's work include:
- Anachronic Order: Common in many of his novels, but probably most prominent in Invisible Monsters.
- Arc Words: When he uses them, he refers to them as "choruses".
- And what might be considered an arc color. All of his books have a passing reference to cornflower blue.
- Author Filibuster
- Author Appeal: Quite possibly the color Cornflower Blue.
- And snarky protagonists. And graphic and/or Squicky sex scenes.
- Bittersweet Ending: Choke and Invisible Monsters.
- Really, Snuff might count too. It just might.
- Black Humor
- Body Horror: "One stupid mistake, and now he'll never be a lawyer."
- Brown Note: He wrote a real one (Guts). See the Brown Note page.
- Downer Ending: Virtually any book that doesn't have a bittersweet end. Haunted 2005 is probably the most triumphant example.
- Pygmy has a happy ending. Well, sort of.
- Palahniuk's own interpretation of Survivor's ending is fairly positive.
- For those of you who don't want to go look for it, this is his interpretation: The end of Survivor isn't nearly so complicated. It's noted on page 7(8?) that a pile of valuable offerings has been left in the front of the passenger cabin. This pile includes a cassette recorder. Even before our hero starts to dictate his story — during the few minutes he's supposed to be taking a piss — he's actually in the bathroom dictating the last chapter into the cassette recorder. It's just ranting, nothing important plot-wise, and it can be interrupted at any point by the destruction of the plane. The minute the fourth engine flames out, he starts the cassette talking, then bails out, into Fertility's waiting arms (she's omniscient, you know). The rest of the book is just one machine whining and bitching to another machine. The crash will destroy the smaller recorder, but the surviving black box will make it appear that Tender is dead.
- Evil Feels Good: A recurring theme in his work.
- Evilutionary Biologist
- Fight Clubbing: He wrote the book on it.
- First-Person Smartass: Every Palahniuk narrator is this.
- Especially Victor Mancini in Choke.
- But not Pygmy.
- How We Got Here: Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters and Lullaby.
- Minimalism: His whole style is based around this.
- Money, Dear Boy: Palahniuk's explanation for the execrable Fight Club video game. To quote: "They can do whatever they want with my book as long as the fucking check clears."
- Nietzsche Wannabe
- Nightmare Face: The protagonist of Invisible Monsters. One look at this fan-made image◊ (NSFW and very disturbing) should tell you why people are so damn afraid of her.
- No Name Given: The narrator of Fight Club
- One Word Title: Most of his novels.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Snuff includes a hurricane of them.
- Perky Goth: He coined the term "Suicide Girl" to describe this type of woman hanging around Portland, OR. Then a website was formed to visually depict such ladies and the term stuck for good.
- Reality Subtext: He wrote Lullaby to cope with his decision of whether his father's murderer should get the death sentence. Lullaby's probably one of his saddest works.
- His upcoming novel Damned was written to deal with his mother's death, too.
- Ripped from the Headlines: He's quite fond of basing parts of his novels on anecdotes he's heard or read about. Even "Guts", probably his single most disturbing piece of writing, was based on three true stories.
- Shout Out: A young repressed gay character named Trevor is killed by the titular Pygmy in Palahniuk's 2009 novel. This is a shout out to Survivor, where a young gay character named Trevor kills himself after being encouraged to do so by Tender Branson.
- Shown Their Work: The research he carries out for his novels is thorough, to say the least. A friend of his recounted an incidence in which Palahniuk read an entire book on serial killers, the information from which ended up being used on one page of a novel he was working on (Lullaby).
- Straight Gay: A few of his characters as well as Palahniuk himself qualify as this.
- Unreliable Narrator