12 Things We Learned From Chuck Palahniuk’s AMA


As you may have heard, Chuck Palahniuk has some forthcoming novels lined up, and to ramp up anticipation for these (as well as appease his hordes of fans) he hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over at Reddit last night. We waded through the cheeky banter, multiple counts of Internet failure, and sometimes sexually aggressive commenters to bring you the most interesting tidbits we gleaned from the session. Check them out after the jump.

Photo Credit: Tim LaBarge

1. He’s not as hardcore as he wants the world at large to think. “A secret truth? Those [Jack Daniels] bottles on that tour… they were filled with Lipton’s tea. I wanted a sight gag that would look cool.”

2. He does research for his books with the (stoned) professionals. “Not to lose anybody his job… but some very stoned guys came from Stanley Steamer and taught me the blood-cleaning stuff. And this was ten years before Sunshine Cleaning. Although I laughed out foamy hurl when Emily Blunt fell face-down on the gore-soaked mattress.”

3. He’s okay with you stealing his books. “Honestly? I stole a huge copy of “The Joy of Sex” from a Waldenbooks in 1975 ( 1976? ). I put it in my pants, no kidding. And if you stole a paperback then you only owe me about 25 cents. Go to http://byl.nr/XPW2Mj and read ‘Phoenix’ and we’ll be even. You’ll go to Heaven and be with the angels.”

4. He takes his cues from awesome lady writers. “To be brutally honest, I can do a mean drag version of Amy Hemple [sic] or Monica Drake, but my version will never have their depth and thoughtfulness.” Also: “Amy Hemple [sic] makes my life worth living. If you do nothing else with your life, find a copy of her essay “A Full-Service Shelter” and love it.”

5. And he can think of a much better idea than a Chuck Palahniuk tattoo. “You should get something from Lidia Yuknavitch inked on you. I will if you will.”

6. He “yearns now to be the dirty-minded Henry James.” “The rub is that if you change style people feel betrayed — witness the huge schism between early and later fans of the Star Wars films and the Woody Allen films. That said, I flushed most of the past two years down the toilet, shedding my favorite tics and violating every writing rule taught to me by Tom Spanbauer. My style is becoming baroque, as is my spelling. I yearn now to be the dirty-minded Henry James. Stay tuned for “Beautiful You” the book that will put my master plan of “Gonzo Erotica” into effect… No choruses. Lots of adverbs. Gordon Lish will put out a hit on me.”

7. If you write him a letter, he might send you a box of random stuff. “Sometimes I takes me [sic] days to compile a box. Usually — and I’m getting more careful about this — I look for clever, useful, beautifully packaged things. My theory is that if I vary them it’s more likely at least one thing will occur as a delight for you. ( secret? I try to send smells, sounds, flavors, and i avoid sending more words. gosh i hate to type. )”

8. He revises by shaving his head. “Get ready to hate me. To Really hate me. When I have to do painful revisions I shave my head. It’s like dying, and it makes me feel better about killing passages I’ve written and still love. But that’s just my method.”

9. He’s offended by unused ideas. “What offends me? Waste offends me, or great ideas that never get developed. I want to steal from every writer I meet who shares a brilliant idea that he or she will never complete. I’m not fond of Haggis, either. Sorry Irvine.”

10. His partner’s name is Mike. “I wasn’t always a public person, but I’ve been with someone ( Mike ) for decades. Early on, we talked about the growing attention, and he wanted to avoid the spotlight. I have to admire his resolve to remain private. I’ve talked to too many celebrated people who lost their true loves because of this issue.”

11. Fight Club was a failure — at least at first. “Please let me address a misperception. ‘Fight Club’ was a huge failure. Most of the hardcovers were going to be pulped. They were unsold when the movie opened… and then the movie was a flop. It has taken years ( decades ) for the story to build an audience. What’s amazing is that it still resonates for young readers; it’s never become dated. ( he shakes his head in disbelief )”

12. He shoots for the remarkable over the enjoyable. “My best writing advice? Write something that people might not “enjoy” but will never forget… Our tastes change with time, and something that persists has a chance of getting appreciated more in the future.”