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My Top 5: Chuck Palahniuk Novels

Here, I list five novels by Palahniuk and why you should read them!

When the Borders store closed in Arbor Place Mall, I had no idea they’d replace the prime location with a clothing store. Honestly, does Arbor Place Mall really need another clothing store?!

I understand that a lot of reading material is going electronic but there is no excuse for the absence of a bookstore in a town in my opinion. There is the used bookstore off of Douglas Boulevard, next to Walgreens and sure there’s always the library. But the availability of literature is limited in Douglasville. And while I know Border’s as a company closed, I will keep hoping another bookstore will open.

 That being said, I’ve written this blog because I love books. More selectively, I love Chuck Palahniuk’s books. I think I could go on for ten blogs about Mr. Palahniuk and his work; however I have a day job.

I started reading Palahniuk when a friend of mine, Erin, gave me this book with a flower print cover. In horrible handwritten font, the title read: Diary, written by Chuck Palahniuk. She said, "Read this. You need to." And thus began a life long love affair between Chuck's words and myself. Because not only am I completely in love with his style but he keeps me so wildly entertained it is hard for me to stretch reading one of his novels to even a 2-day excursion for I finish the book the same day I purchase it.

 I am here, right this moment, to persuade you all into spending your hard-earned money on something so well crafted...so handsomely written...and have you thank me for it. I've made a list (which I also love) on exactly which books you should be searching for.

 

5 Books by Chuck Palahniuk and Why You Should Buy Them

 

  1. Diary
    Style: Diary is written very much like a diary and narrated by an omniscient voice. Palahniuk plays with the linear story set up-to say anything else would be a spoiler.     
    The Basics: This was the first novel by Chuck Palahniuk I ever read and I think it is a great first.
    It takes place both in a coastal town and the small island where the “old money” lives. It follows the tragic story of Misty Kleinman: how she came to marry Peter Wilmot and move to the wealthy island only to become the Waytansea Hotel maid. More in love with art than her husband, she loses both-Peter to a failed suicide attempt leaving him comatose in a hospital far away and with all the work that needs to be done, who has time to paint? And with all of these strange calls from beach house renters about the bizarre disappearances of the kitchen or living room or bathroom and the writing, literally, on the walls of the homes...well, let's just say she's hitting the sauce harder than ever.
           Enter Angel Delaporte, a new friend to Misty who helps heave her out of depression and begin painting again. He also follows Misty around on her visits to the rental homes, analyzing what turns out to be Peter's handwriting. Soon, Peter's mother is interfering with not only Misty's work-at the hotel and on paper-but her only daughter, Tabbi. Hand in hand are always the grandmother and granddaughter, especially when Misty falls and breaks her leg, keeping her from work and making her a prisoner to her room.
           Stranger occurrences continue around Misty, hardly aware while she's busy painting and self medicating, until Palahniuk finishes the story with an ending so hair raising you'll need to sedate yourself.
    Time span of novel:Diary starts in Misty’s early 40s and covers everything from Misty’s childhood days in a dusty trailer park (in Milledgeville, GA, I might add) to her final art exhibition. However, Diary does something with the idea of “time” that will have you questioning your own foundations of life…and that is the only way I can describe it.
    What you can expect: A turn so delicious you'll think it was fattening.
    Fun Tib-Bit: In a Panic at the Disco song, “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines”,  they use this line from Diary: “Just for the record, the weather today is slightly sarcastic…”

  2. Lullaby 
    Style:
    In Lullaby, Palahniuk opens with the main character directly addressing the reader. He gives us his present location but says that what he needs to tell is the way it all happened-the meeting, the events that spiraled into some kind of gothic circus-and this takes the form of a frame story.
    The Basics:
    In this frighteningly stimulating novel, Palahniuk tells his devoted readers about Carl Streator, a reporter. Obviously unhappy with his life-although the reason is unknown in the beginning-Streator is assigned to a story about a sudden rise in sudden infant death syndrome.
            Streator investigates this story further and discovers a book, Poems and Rhyme Around the World to be exact, with an African chant-or a lullaby-that will be the receiver’s last nap. With this newfound knowledge of something that could possibly be the end of the world, Streator of course could not keep from taking advantage-killing anything that barely annoyed him throughout his day.
            The story introduces us to several characters once we learn that someone else, Helen Boyle, knows of this evil rhyme. Although her motives are quite cloudy at first, we like to see Streator interacting with someone again…or at all. She and her assistant and her assistant’s boyfriend all set out with Streator to destroy the poem-what is sure to be the end of mankind-or so Streator thinks this is the plan.
              What unwinds as they press further and further to find every copy (especially the discovery of a spellbook intended to help control almost anything) is nothing short of a very fast, very upside down rollercoaster. We learn something that Helen and Carl have in common…something that will either make them or break them.
    Time span of novel: Although Lullaby starts with Streator stating his present being and goings on, his need to tell us the backstory of it all takes us to the beginning…with Streator’s first encounter with SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
    What you can expect:
    To turn the pages faster and faster. Don’t blink…you’ll miss something.
    Tib-Bit: 
    Anything you could look up with Chuck Palahniuk’s name will bring up this story and say only that Palahniuk’s father was killed. But when he was asked to be a part of the decision of whether the murderer would receive capital punishment, Palahniuk was writing this novel. He struggled with his side on the entire argument. A month after Lullaby was released, his father’s killer-Dale Shackleford-was sentenced to death.

  3. Rant
    Style: This novel is written entirely in interview format. We never hear from our protagonist yet everyone he ever met or affected (or infected, as it were) is our narrator.
    The Basics: Buster Casey, or “Rant”, is the elusive subject of every character’s story. His tragic childhood (and his mother’s) was either the cause or affect of his run in with rabies, a broken home and a string of unfortunate events. As the audience, we try to piece together the different opinions and stories of Rant to understand him better.
         Although his group of friends and the adults from his hometown see him quite differently, something keeps coming up: the suspicious similarities between his childhood and that of his mother’s and grandmother’s. The spin will knock you out.
    Time span of novel: The interviews seem to take place after a single, significant event. However, the stories told span from his family’s history all the way to his own adulthood.
    What you can expect: Discretion advised- sensitive subjects occur including, but not limited to, rape.
    Fun Tid-Bit:
    Rant is originally, Palahniuk has stated, the beginning of a three-part series.

  4. Survivor

Style: Starting with the last chapter, the book moves forward to the ‘beginning’ as Tender Branson, our tragic hero, tells us in his own words how he got to be on a plane he just hijacked.
The Basics: Palahniuk mocks America’s obsession with the famous persona and all that it comes with- the fashion, the perfections and definitely the imperfections. Tender Branson, the last surviving member of a suicide cult, makes the transition from domestic and heavenly server to the most famous religious figure next to Christ.
        After an ad for a suicide prevention line misprints its phone number with Branson’s, he meets a girl who claims to foresee events. With her help he becomes the new celebrity Messiah. Steroids, among many other chemicals, aid his climb up the religious-socialite Stairmaster. He changes the face of religious fame while mysterious situations encircle his spiraling lifestyle.
       He records his entire story on the black box of a plane and recalls the most painful to the most mundane moments that brought him thousands of miles above the earth.
Time span of novel: Not giving away any endings, but he definitely gets to finish telling his story.
What you can expect: Gripping stuff, folks. Don’t let the countdown speed up your heart rate too much.
Tid-Bit: Survivor was picked up for a film option, however after the September 11th attacks, the project was dropped.

   5. Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories

       Style: No fiction stories here! Palahniuk puts together a compilation of
      memoirs, reflections and true stories. The theme is “being together” and in       every sense of the phrase.
      The Basics: Covering different events that bring even the craziest  
      fetishes together, a monster car durby, his day spent with Marilyn Manson
      and an interview with actress Juliette Lewis. He wraps up the book with
      his personal stories, including the events surrounding his father’s murder,
      this collection is hands-down the best nonfiction I’ve ever read. Palahniuk
      certainly captures the humanity and insanity of lives lived all over the
      nation.
     Time span of novel: Several different time periods, mostly modern day,
     within many years.
     What you can expect: Do not let the first chapter turn you away from
     the rest of this book. A little raunchy, but the reality drips off the page so
     it more than makes up for it. You'll end each chapter with an enlivening
     interest to know more.
     Fun Tib-Bit: In Stranger Than Fiction, Palahniuk shares his influences for
     writing one of his hit novels, Fight Club. 

 

So whether you’ll hit up Camp Creek Parkway’s Barnes & Noble bookstore or look them up on Amazon.com through your Kindle, consider Palahniuk. A little edgy, but who doesn’t love an amazing page turner? Maybe a novel (or more!) a month would be a great New Year’s resolution! Give it some thought and good reading, everyone!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lynn Coulter January 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Lindsay, I'm glad to find another book lover here online! Like you, I really hated to see Borders close. I've gone to the B&N near Cumberland a couple of times and was alarmed to see how much of their floor space was given over to toys and games at Christmastime. I'm hoping they add back more books. Thanks for sharing these reviews. Palahniuk sounds like a very intriguing writer. Lynn
Lindsay Millett January 12, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Lynn, thanks for reading (and hopefully reading Chuck too!). If you're a book lover then Palahniuk should definitely be a part of your bookshelf. Some of his other novels that I did not list here, like Invisible Monsters and Choke, are just a continuation of his incredible style and his unique way of finding the extraordinary in ordinary characters and events. I definitely recommend Diary as a first read. I think it was the perfect way to enter Palahniuk's world. And now that you mention it, I did notice that before Borders began to close so many items that weren't literature took up a lot of space. I haven't been around to B&N as of late; I do much of my shopping on Amazon (not through Kindle, just buying used books). It's inexpensive and to be honest I love a book with history. When I lend books to friends, I always tell them to underline, highlight, bubble their favorite parts, passages they enjoyed or any kind of line that just stood out to them. Because I read my books over and over and over again, it's fun to see who liked which part.

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