- Quote from Chuck Palahniuk's novel Diary

By: Ryan Storck

What is the difference between a pile of rotting baby fetuses and a shiny, red Porsche with tinted windows? I don't have a shiny red Porsche with tinted windows in my garage. If you were disgusted by that joke then you might be what society, as in your parents and neighbors, would call normal. If the edges of your mouth lifted and you can't wait to tell that one to your friends, then you would love Chuck Palahniuk novels.

I am not what you would call a "reader.” Back until about a year ago I was far too cool to carry a book around. For entertainment and storytelling I would go to films - easy manipulation that didn't make you try to enjoy. Then a female came into my life and introduced me to the hobby. This was one of those girls who wanted to read all of the classics. She had a list. Thank god for the internet and their lists. The only reason I picked up Slaughterhouse Five was because I expected explicit gore and scenes of torturous death. It wasn't what I expected. But it got me to where I wanted to be with this lady and I liked Vonnegut’s sense of humor. For gore I read American Psycho. Gore indeed. I was disgusted at myself for finding pleasure in all the pain splashed onto those pages. Disgusted but not ashamed.

That's when I came to Chuck Palahniuk. He was brought up in conversation as the guy who wrote Fight Club. I had read a review about him in one of those "this is what a man should look and think like" magazines and it was not too flattering. They talked down upon his continuous writing and themes of identity. Funny - that is the one reason why I love his stories so much; they deal with the protagonist finding him or herself. The fight to figure everything out. I can relate. Palahniuk is my old Chinese mentor with white hair and a beard that will teach me all about life while sitting under the sycamore, gazing at the chaotic and confused lake of our generation. He writes stories that have been written before, but in a way beyond the tired boy-becomes-man plot. His quick wit and dark (freakishly dark at times) humor always keeps the pages turning.

The main character in Invisible Monsters wants to reinvent herself, becoming something completely different than before. In a classic novel she would run from her wealthy parents and volunteer at an animal hospital. Boring. In Palahniuk's world she would lose the lower half of her face. It seems worthless to talk about his stories. He does such a better job of explaining them, of bringing them to life. Although most of his work is labeled fictional, I see his writing as full of usefully important facts. Lets say your girlfriend's best pal is over, and she seems to wait until you go to bed to run into the bathroom, pop open your razor and slit her wrists open. Blood will spill, and you will wake up in the morning wondering how to get it out of your new inexpensive floor mat. Blood out of fabric? Read Survivor. Lets say then that your neighbor was masturbating in his pool and the filter at the bottom somehow sucked his intestines out his ass. How would he get free? Can he live through this? Intestines out of asshole? Read Haunted. How about when you are in the mall and the loud speaker asks Mrs. Any Name to pick up her order from the front desk. You then see eight overstuffed mall authority figures running into the main lobby with panic across their faces. Conspiracies out of random, assumed, meaningless phrases? Read Choke. I could go on forever.

When it comes down to it, Palahniuk is a writer for which non-readers will leave their "blood and guts" video games. He will make you turn off your trendy I-Pod and concentrate on visualizing some disturbing events, leading to an amazingly beautiful realization. Trust me, LittleJohn can only say so much. Eventually you will find he is just repeating himself. In a world where people won't pay attention unless the words Brangelina, Oprah or TomKat are used, Palahniuk slaps you in the face, making you hate yourself for ever picking up an US magazine and giving a shit about any of it. He is the great author of our time. I’m sure there are others out there, but until I read everything put out on the shelves, they will be just an alphabetical reference to guide me back to Palahniuk.

Anyone interested in buying some dead baby fetuses?


All opinions expressed by Ryan Storck are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.