Is Chuck Palahniuk one of America’s most underrated or overrated novelists? The answer to the question probably revolves around your attitude towards the shocking, because he is without doubt a novelist with the power to churn the stomach (although the reported faintings at readings of his short story ‘Guts’ seems exaggerated to me).
Speaking to Three Monkeys a couple of years ago, Palahniuk said:
“I always want to keep the story moving. This means a constant flow of plot points, occurring in short scenes. Over the length of a novel, this forces the plot beyond any moderate crisis. What might be the dramatic peak of another book will just be the first-act peak in my books. If I have a bold, upsetting idea, I’ll use it as soon as possible. Otherwise, I find my flow of ideas stops. No matter how appalling the scene, you can always top it eventually. Plus, books have such a tiny share of the public attention. No one reads. With all these strikes against books, I think their advantage is the ability to address topics and depict scenes that no other medium can. If writers don’t go to these extremes, no one will”
Pushing the extremes in his latest novel, Snuff, means a plot revolving around an Annabel Chong style serial fornication movie.
Speaking recently to Italian film director/journalist/ and professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Antonio Monda, Palahniuk talks about his influences, which include Jack London and Ray Bradbury, but also the perhaps surprising F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“I hope it’s not a surprise if I include The Great Gatsby. The narrative structure, with its triangle of two men and a woman enormously influenced Fight Club”.
 La Repubblica – 11/10/2008
Tags: american authors