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Stranger Than Fiction

Cover of Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction

True Stories
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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.

BONUS: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk's Doomed.

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.

BONUS: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk's Doomed.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book You Are HereIn the ballroom at the Airport Sheraton Hotel, a team of men and women sit inside separate booths, curtained off from each other. They each sit at a small table, the curtains enclosing a space just big enough for the table and two chairs. And they listen. All day, they sit and listen.

    Outside the ballroom, a crowd waits in the lobby, writers holding book manuscripts or movie screenplays. An organizer guards the ballroom doors, checking a list of names on a clipboard. She calls your name, and you step forward and follow her into the ballroom. The organizer parts a curtain. You take a seat at the little table. And you start to talk.

    As a writer, you have seven minutes. Some places you might get eight or even ten minutes, but then the organizer will return to replace you with another writer. For this window of time, you've paid between twenty and fifty dollars to pitch your story to a book agent or a publisher or movie producer.

    And all day, the ballroom at the Airport Sheraton is buzzing with talk. Most of the writers here are old--creepy old, retired people clutching their one good story. Shaking their manuscript in both spotted hands and saying, "Here! Read my incest story!"

    A big segment of the storytelling is about personal suffering. There's the stink of catharsis. Of melodrama and memoir. A writer friend refers to this school as "the-sun-is-shining-the-birds-are-singing-and-my-father-is-on-top-of-me-again" literature.

    In the lobby outside the hotel ballroom, writers wait, practicing their one big story on each other. A wartime submarine battle, or being knocked around by a drunk spouse. The story about how they suffered, but survived to win. Challenge and triumph. They time each other with wristwatches. In just minutes, they'll have to tell their story, and prove how it would be perfect for Julia Roberts. Or Harrison Ford. Or, if not Harrison, then Mel Gibson. And if not Julia, then Meryl.

    Then, sorry, your seven minutes is up.

    The conference organizer always interrupts at the best part of the pitch, where you're deep into telling about your drug addiction. Your gang rape. Your drunken dive into a shallow pool on the Yakima River. And how it would make a great feature film. And, if not that, then a great cable film. Or a great made-for-television movie.

    Then, sorry, your seven minutes is up.

    The crowd out in the lobby, each writer holding his story in his hand, it's a little like the crowd here last week for the Antiques Road Show. Each person carrying some burden: a gilded clock or a scar from a house fire or the story of being a married, gay Mormon. This is something they've lugged around their whole life, and now they're here to see what it will fetch on the open market. Just what is this worth? This china teapot, or crippling spinal disease. Is it a treasure or just more junk.

    Then, sorry, your seven minutes is up.

    In the hotel ballroom, in those curtained cubicles, one person sits passive while the other exhausts himself. In that way, it's like a brothel. The passive listener paid to receive. The active speaker paying to be heard. To leave behind some trace of himself--always hoping this trace is enough to take root and grow into something bigger. A book. A baby. An heir to his story, to carry his name into the future. But the listener, he's heard it all. He's polite, but bored. Hard to impress. This is your seven minutes in the saddle--so to speak--but your whore is looking at his own wristwatch, wondering what's for lunch, planning on how to spend the stipend money. Then . . .

    Sorry, your seven minutes is up.

    Here's your life story, but reduced to...
About the Author-
  • CHUCK PALAHNIUK's six novels are the bestselling Diary, Choke, Lullaby, Fight Club--which was made into a film by director David Fincher--Survivor, and Invisible Monsters. He is also the author of the nonfiction profile of Portland, Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journeys series. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Reviews-
  • Los Angeles Times "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."
  • The Oregonian "Step into Palahniuk's dark worldview and watch for what crawls out. These stories are true to him and no one else."
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "One of the oddest and most oddly compelling collections to come along for some time."
  • The New Orleans Times-Picayune "In Chuck Palahniuk's world, the ride is fast, often disturbing, and there is never any holding back."
  • The Onion "Eccentric, idiosyncratic, and often entertaining."
  • The New York Times "Priceless grace notes from an exceptionally droll and sharp-eyed observer."
  • The Seattle Times "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. . . . This is a pretty great book."
  • Black Book "The book's lurid appeal rests largely on being let in on Palahniuk's secrets, the raw material for much of his fiction. . . . Acts that give spice to his novels are made more menacing when encountered in the real world."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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