There’s a fascinating piece on Flavorwire hero Chuck Tingle at Literary Hub today, and if you fancy yourself as a true buckaroo who knows that love is real, we suggest you head over there and read it as quickly as possible. If you’re still here, though, you might be as surprised as we are to find that Chuck Tingle is… real?
In the world of the internet, of course, it’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t, and who’s actually on the other end of that screen name or this avatar. Like many others, then, we assumed that Chuck Tingle — our man of the year for 2015, and author of high-concept post-modern erotica like Pounded in the Butt by My Book ‘Pounded in the Butt by My Own Butt’ — was a persona created by some sort of performance artist. Surely the Billings, Montana-based hero who made fools of a bunch of Hugo Award-trolling alt-right clowns and claims grandmastery in taekwondo and a PhD in holistic massage couldn’t be a real person?
Lit Hub’s M. Sophia Newman, however, has done some digging into the Reddit AMAs done by both Tingle and his “handsome son” Jon, and found something overlooked by most until now: Jon, at least, insists that his father’s persona is very much reflective of his actual personality.
“To answer the first question that I always get, Yes, my father is very real,” Jon wrote. “He is an autistic savant, but also suffers from schizophrenia.” Amid the outpouring of attention, this fact has gone mostly unacknowledged. Naomi Kritzer, whose “Cat Pictures Please” beat out Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion for Best Short Story at the Hugos, said from the stage, “I want to thank Chuck Tingle for his outstanding performance art, and for giving us something to talk about.” But his weirdness is not self-consciously “artistic,” per se. Chuck Tingle’s eccentric style, unique taste, and his freedom to focus on writing e-books has a lot to do with his status as a person with serious mental and neurological disabilities.
This is 100% true — as far as I’m aware, this is the first article on Tingle to take note of Jon’s claims about his father, and trust me, I’ve read pretty much everything written about him. Tingle is certainly self-aware, as his Twitter account demonstrates — earlier this week, he was tweeting about how the inevitable slew of Gamergate hate toward Zoe Quinn’s collaboration with him was the work of men who are “LONESOME SAD MEN or possibly babies.” Should the knowledge that he is — according to his son, at least — not a performance art creation change our attitude to him? I’m not sure that it should, to be honest. Either way, he’s a national treasure, and if he’s happy writing his Tinglers — and, as per Jon’s AMA, he’s “he’s happier than I’ve seen him in a long time,” we’re happy reading them.