'Fight Club' author creates anew

One would think Chuck Palahniuk, author of the well known book-turned-movie "Fight Club," would come off as a bit odd or even deranged. In actuality, he admitted that he wouldn't "fight Kierkegaard - because he had a bad back" at the National Press Club on Monday.

Palahniuk is on tour promoting his latest novel, "Diary," which is morbid and full of wit, much like his previous work. Full of social commentary like that of "Fight Club," Chuck again attacks the upper-class, using sarcasm and dry humor. Palahniuk started writing after moving into a not-so-glamorous shanty like that on Paper Street in "Fight Club." Stuck with only recorded music and books, he realized he didn't want to read any of the novels he had lying around. Instead, he wrote the kind of book he would want to read.

Because of his struggles as an artist and his poverty before writing, he sympathizes with the working class and writes to them. "Diary"s main character, Misty, a painter, can seem like a self-indulgent reference to his past as a starving artist. The novel is full of his usual trademarks-short repetitive phrases that set the mood of sarcasm. This particular story uses the weather to convey discontent: "The weather today is increasing concern followed by full blown dread."

Misty keeps a diary during her husband's coma after his attempted suicide. While he's in the coma, Misty and the rest of her husband's family are stuck on Waytansea Island, dealing with the tourists that have overrun it. The tourists want Misty to paint, and she refuses. However, she begins to suffer awful headaches that are only relieved when she creates art. The tourists have this control over Misty, and the plot twists that occur as a result make the novel worth reading. Most fans will love this book, yet it doesn't contain the same sharpness as his earlier novels. However, it is still full of his trademark cynicism, humor and pessimism.

The novel has a grotesque quality to it that all Palahniuk fans are familiar with. He continued this tradition during his reading of a new short story during his speech at the press club that's to be included in a compilation due out in 2005. When he began the story, he warned that on his tour, at least two people had managed to faint at every reading of it. The details surrounding the horrible consequences that ensued due to none other than masturbation were entirely too gruesome. However, Palahniuk has a way of mixing these gross points with hysterically funny ones. He describes this latest project as "what Edgar Allan Poe would write if he were alive today."

A witness at one of the readings, an editor for Playboy, saw the fainting and immediately purchased the story. It's expected to be out in the February issue. All in all, though, Palahniuk is a completely normal guy with a wife and two dogs. He enjoys gardening, listening to Pink Floyd and looking up ghost stories on the Web.

Palahniuk is an extraordinary writer with a somewhat normal life who appeals to normal people.

"I write about butts a lot because everyone has one," said Palahniuk. "Everybody can have the same sympathetic butt reactions"

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