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NYS Writers Institute, September 21, 2004
7:00 p.m. Autographs and Photos | Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center
8:00 p.m. Reading and Q&A | Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center

Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk is a prolific author who explores, in outrageous and comic fashion, America's apparent love of violence. No writer divides critics more sharply. While some view him as a literary nihilist--a man hell-bent on killing the novel as a reputable art form--others view him as a brilliant social satirist and the most important literary innovator of his generation.

Palahniuk (pronounced "PAULA-nick") achieved broad recognition with the publication of "Fight Club" (1996), a bizarre, violent novel about a secret organization of men who engage in bloody fistfights for enjoyment, catharsis, and personal salvation. The club evolves ultimately into a guerilla army that is funded by the sale of soap made from liposuctioned human fat. The cult bestseller was made into a 1999 film starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Meat Loaf.

Palahniuk, who grew up in a trailer park in rural Washington, wrote the novel while working as documentation specialist and diesel mechanic for a Portland, Oregon truck company, a job he held for 13 years.

The "Seattle Times" called the novel, "an astonishing debut… a dark, unsettling and nerve-chafing satire." The "Washington Post Book World" praised the novel's "diabolically sharp and funny writing." "Booklist" said, "This is a dark and disturbing book that dials directly into youthful angst and will likely horrify the parents of teens and twentysomethings. It's also a powerful and possibly brilliant first novel."

Palahniuk wrote "Fight Club" after the rejection by book publishers of his first novel, "Invisible Monsters," the story of a fashion model who loses the lower half of her face in a shooting. The novel was eventually published in 1999. A satire of the fashion industry, "Invisible Monsters" was inspired by glamour magazines Palahniuk read while washing his clothes at the local Laundromat.

Palahniuk's most recent novel is "Diary" (2003), a twisted fable about "tortured artists" and the meaning of art. While her suicidal husband lies in a coma, ex-art student Misty Tracy Wilmot keeps a diary of bizarre and shocking events that occur on the resort island of Waytansea. The "Washington Post" reviewer said, "In a publishing world of sentimental biographies, thrillers and plotless realism, it's refreshing to see someone attempt to flip the concept of myth and break fairy tales down into the physical details of modern life. At this Palahniuk is one of the gifted--and we can be thankful that a writer with such an established readership is still driven to experiment."

Sstranger Than FictionOther novels include "Lullaby" (2002), which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award of the Horror Writers Association, "Choke" (2001), and "Survivor" (1999).

Palahniuk's newest book is "Stranger Than Fiction" (2004), his first collection of nonfiction. The book features 23 pieces in which he explores the weirder side of American experience, including daily life on submarines, the violent world of college wrestling, and anabolic steroid addiction. The book also features profiles of alternative culture heroes, including Indie movie actress Juliette Lewis, pop star Marilyn Manson, and "Rocket Guy," a man who has launched his own private space program involving rockets propelled by hydrogen peroxide. Also included is the tragic story of Palahniuk's father, who was murdered by a woman's ex-husband after responding to her "lonely hearts" ad.

Palahniuk is the author of a bestselling travel book, "Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon" (2003). The book offers a tour of peculiar festivals, museums, bars, stores, and personalities that make Portland one of America's most unusual and nonconforming cities--a city populated, in Palahniuk's words, by the "most cracked of the crackpots."

Additional Links:
Times Union Article
Chuck Palahniuk Home Page

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.