Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chuck Palahniuk reading at Indigo

Last night after I got home from the Chuck Palahniuk reading, I sat down to blog about the lunch I had earlier that day at Izakaya and the dinner with Darryl at Sono Japanese Restaurant. By the time I got to writing about Chuck, it was way past my bedtime and I wrote a posting that you may have read if you checked early enough this morning. I think I was way too cranky, so I since took it down and I'm going to start over with a better attitude.

For those of you who don't recognize the name, Chuck is the author who wrote the novel Fight Club, which as I think most everyone knows was made into a very successful motion picture starring Brad Pitt. In addition to Fight Club, he has written 9 other books; four of which either have been or will be made into movies. Last night's reading took place to promote his latest novel: Rant.

You would not believe how many people showed up. They really should have held this reading in a seated venue so that everyone could have a look at him. Since it was in a store, there were only about 10 rows of chairs set up, which I heard were full by 2:30 (event started at 7PM), and everyone else was crowded into aisles, peeking over shelves trying to catch a glimpse. Darryl and I went into the music section behind the stage where we had a pretty good view of the back of his head.

He was up there for about 1-1/2 hours and the majority of the time he was letting people ask him questions (alternating between girls and boys). Even if you couldn't see the crowd, you could tell it was very different from the one at say, Michael Ondaatje, because Chuck would say, "Next question? Yes, you with the tattoo on your wrist; okay, now you with the shaved head." He also spent a good deal of time asking trivia questions about his books and giving out prizes of signed inflatable moose(s). He picked moose because he thought it was something Canadians would like (he's American, as you would assume).

When he did read, he read a short story that has not been published yet because he wanted us to get something out of the reading that we couldn't get anywhere else. I thought that was cool. The story itself was about a midwest high school student who was telemarketing to earn money and spent his entire job trying to convince people that he wasn't in India. It was pretty funny.

I haven't read much by him at all. The only book I read was Stranger than Fiction, which was a bunch of short, non-fiction stories. He is someone who has seen, heard, and experienced so much crazy stuff that I couldn't even imagine. Which is what makes him so valuable as an author. Anyone can pick up his books and be thrown into places that we'd have no chance of going to or even knowing they existed. And he really looks like he writes -- wiry, tough, compact, but with a sense of humour.

I really liked how he engaged the audience through the questions and the trivia contest. He made a big effort to interact. One funny question that someone asked was if his mother read his books and what does she think of them (because they're so raw). He said that as an author you can't factor that kind of thing into the equation or you wouldn't be able to write a word. And he said that his mother stopped reading his work a long time ago. :)

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