- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 10, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385722222
- ISBN-13: 978-0385722223
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories Paperback – May 10, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
This collection from shock novelist Palahniuk (Choke; Lullaby) is an eye-opening look at the raw material that goes into Palahniuk's fiction, as well as proof that the novelist's art is derived from keen observation and recording of details. Often these are as grotesque as a closeup in a horror film (e.g., in talking to a group of wrestlers enduring Olympic tryouts, Palahniuk focuses on their injuries, both physical and emotional). Half the essays are magazine assignments and include insightful profiles of rock star Marilyn Manson, indie-movie queen Juliette Lewis and a high schooler who wants to explore space via a homemade rocket. Others offer the author's impressions of a demolition derby, the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival and life aboard the USS Louisiana. Palahniuk often philosophizes, dwelling on the effects his fiction has had on "reality," especially the obsession his fans have had with his novel Fight Club. Palahniuk is fixated on the transformation of life's raw material into fiction and the writing process itself, which he sees as having the potential for self-fulfillment. (Incidentally, Brad Pitt, who played Fight Club's protagonist, emerges as Palahniuk's alter ego, and a number of the essays play on this theme, creating a patchwork memoir.) Palahniuk's fans will undoubtedly revel in the secrets the author reveals. Newcomers might initially feel queasy, but they're likely to warm up to his visceral prose and come to enjoy it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Fight Club (1996) and the guys who fight for sport to Choke (2001) and a young man who might literally be the son of Jesus, Palahniuk's novels are consistently populated with extraordinary eccentrics. So it's no surprise that in this collection of previously published magazine pieces, he writes mostly of the bizarre. Palahniuk focuses on themes of solitude and community, on our need to feel simultaneously special and a part of something. He attends the Olympic wrestling trials, for instance, and examines why men endure cauliflower ear and debilitating injury to participate in a sport that no one watches or cares about. The personal essays (Palahniuk describes a romp through Seattle while wearing a dog costume, for instance) don't shine as much as the journalistic pieces, although fans will be interested to learn personal details about Chuck and his experiences with quasi celebrity. But the best narratives here-- particularly a lengthy one on Americans who build European-style castles--show Palahniuk's deep compassion for oddballs and misfits, a hard-boiled kindness for which his fans revere him. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
So I picked this one. The reason being, I was interested in the person behind the movie phenomenon.
At first, I was pretty happy. "Stranger Than Fiction" reads like the narrator talks in "Fight Club". This was pleasing at first because the first couple of stories really piqued my interest, not just for the narration, but because they were stories that I truly enjoyed. Palahniuk's insight in the first "story" was spot on, I could relate to it - and the insight in regard to writer's conferences I could relate to, as I'm a writer myself but have never even attempted to publish one of the many novels I've penned although that's soon to change.
Further, the story about the combine derby sounded like fun to me and was well described. Monkey See, Monkey Do was pretty scary, but things I've already assumed were true.
Unfortunately, the rest was rather dull. While I do find it interesting that people have built their own castles from scratch, or are attempting launching themselves into space, it just wasn't that much fun to read about here.
Furthermore, some of these stories just did not interest me at all. I'm now convinced that Juliette Lewis is a complete idiot, even though I've never paid much attention to her in the past. Hearing her ramblings peppered with a series of questions that she asks people made me want to reach out and smack her, and the story of Marilyn Manson using Tarot cards just didn't do it for me. I could have appreciated them some what had they been written from Palahniuk's perspective - how he felt or what he got out of conversing with these people. But it isn't, these "portraits" as they're called in the book completely leave Palahniuk out of the picture, and might as well have been written by the celebrities in question, in a room by themselves. This didn't shed much light on Chuck for me.
Last but not least, I was a bit dissatisfied that Palahniuk's personal experiences and insight later in the book is not really stranger than fiction. As a matter of fact, he talks about things that most of us already realize and understand, but just don't think about that often. The creative element is missing here (which is fine in a non-fiction work) but profound experiences do not take the place of the creative writing. What we're left with is a lot of boring reading with some parts here and there that really talk to us, and being that such a wide range of topics are covered, there is bound to be something you can really appreciate about this work.
Having said that, most of it will likely leave most people bored. I tried to think of a better word other than, "boring" but none are more appropriate. However, the good parts were good enough to have me plow through the book in less than 2 days, looking forward to the next part I could relate to.
If you're just starting off with Palahniuk, I'd take my chances with a different work. If you've read his other stuff and like him, then you won't be completely disappointed here if you're a fan already. I score it 3 out of 5.
Yet it has some quick entertainment value and fascination. I can never quite figure out Chuck's pov. For example, his interview with Juliette Lewis seems to be a completely positive puff piece about a personal friend, but then he seems to let her hang herself by simply quoting truly absurd Scientology comment she makes.
Interviews with Marilyn Manson and the Rocket Guy are just so out of date, it is worthless to read unless you want to relive the stupid spectacle, both pro and con, of Marilyn Manson's career. I wish I could recall the program which featured a MM imitator going house to house trying to "shock" people. it was dead on.
Any fan of Chuck will appreciate this book. It lives up to it's title, and delivers it's helping of strange and obscure topics.
One of these topics is masturbation. And, he has much to say about this, including the reactions of the listeners when he read this story at bookstores around the world. And, let's not exclude the "Testicle Festival," the yearly event near Massoula Montana, that includes public nakedness, sex, and debauchery of all sorts. And, of course, the consumption of fried bull testicles. (dipped in ranch dressing)
So, get on...hold on tight. You may wish you hadn't, but, then again, if you are already familiar with Chuck's work, you probably would expect no less.