Chuck Palahniuk graces the Bay with his twisted genius


Photo credit: Erin Perry

Chuck Palahniuk, author of “Fight Club”, just released his newest book, “Beautiful You”, earlier this week, and his promotional tour included a s right here in San Francisco. It was indeed, a personalized party of sorts with a man who writes books about the more taboo subjects in our society.

The night was filled with glowing beach balls, satin robes, candy corn and a bit of vulgarity. There were readings from Palahniuk and his friend, Brandon Tietz. The event was split into different portions that included games, readings, and a Q&A; segment.

On a book tour, authors typically read excerpts from their recently released books, but Palahniuk instead read two short stories that haven’t yet been published. These were called, “The Facts of Life” and “The Toad Prince”, both of which caused the audience to giggle and gasp.

Despite the lightheartedness and eccentricity of the multiple “dodge-ball” games played with the dozens of glowing beach balls, the night was still informative and intimate once the Q&A; portion began.

Only a handful of people could ask questions (and those who were chosen to ask received personalized gifts from Palahniuk), but each question was thoughtfully pondered and responded to.

When asked where he got his inspiration from, Palahniuk talked both about his inspiration for his novels and his inspiration for becoming an author.

He said that he got a degree in journalism but was left with nothing but, “student loans and no marketable skills” and despite that he still loved aspects of storytelling that comes from reporting.

Palahniuk described the conversations that inspire him as “little seed stories,” the little secrets that people whisper in small groups at parties trying to one-up the person next to them, the tiny tales someone holds onto until that strange circumstance arises where random experiences take center stage. These are the things that inspire Palahniuk to write.

This response related to a later answer shared by Palahniuk when asked why he doesn’t write more non-fiction.

“In a way, what I do write is nonfiction”, he said about these real-life experiences people share with him.

The final question that Palahniuk answered was one that seemed to stump him and cause him to think deeply. The question related to his books containing strong female leads, and who he feels the strongest female role model in his life is. Palahniuk stood in thought for a while, staring down at his small podium. He lifted his head and reassured the audience that he was just thinking for a moment. Then he began to answer.

He took a moment to dissect the question and instead of easily naming someone in his life, he explained how he writes blindly to certain characteristics because of the power that words have in translating a story physically to a reader.

His intimately thoughtful answer encompassed the entire vibe of the evening.

“I try to write without race and without gender,” Palahniuk said. “I try to write with just verbs in mind.”