Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chuck Palahniuk, Book Festival, 16 August

This wasn't my first visit to the Book Festival this year: I'd been to see Iain Banks a few days earlier, and while he was as delightful as ever I didn't feel I'd anything much to write about him.

Not so Chuck Palahniuk. I'd never read any of his books, knowing him only by reputation (never even saw the film of Fight Club), so wasn't sure what to expect.

Things I didn't expect: proceedings kicking off with Chuck and his interviewer hurling several dozen cheap inflatable sex dolls into the audience and having a competition to see who could blow one up fastest. (Two separate prizes as the male dolls were easier to blow up.) I should add that while the dolls were clearly make and female they lacked orifices, whch could be why they were cheap. The prizes were DVDs of Chuck's favourite horror movie (sadly I didn't catch the title, but he said he preferred to watch parts of it with the sound off).

Then we were given a choice of readings. Chuck does a lot of literary events, and likes to read unpublished work at them so people feel they've had something more than they could have had by just reading a book themselves. he gave us the choice of (1) a new piece or (2) a piece called Guts which he had read to great acclaim in Brighton recently. We chose (1) - it seems Guts is on YouTube anyway - so he read us a piece called Loser, about a guy undergoing a fraternity initiation consisting of taking part in a TV game show while tripping on blotter acid. Stylistically quite different from Hunter S Thompson, but his kind of story, I thought.

(Update: I have since discovered that Guts is published in CP's collection Haunted. Also, he has read Guts at a number of forums, and at almost every one members of the audience have fainted. Here's why. )

Next it was Q & A time. Anyone asking a question got another doll for a further competition round. How did he come up with story ideas? He likes to start with a concrete physical sensation and take it from there. Every answer was fringed with marvellous anecdotes, so that for example by the end we knew about apprentice initiations ranging from TV studio technicians to French veterinarians.

Finally, more dolls, more DVDs, and we were out, watching with amusement looks on other festivalgoers faces as we stuffed deflated plastic people into our bags.


At 29 August, 2008 12:52, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

You've not seen Fight Club?!

Recommended reading: Survivor. I read it stood up in Waterstones (for shame) but I just couldn't put it down. In defence I'm sure you would attest we do buy a LOT of books...


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