Biography: Chuck Palahniuk


"I don’t care what they do with my book so long as the flippin check clears."

Chuck Palahniuk is a contemporary American author who is best known for his first published novel Fight Club from 1996, which picked up cult status after the release of the movie in 1999. He has a reputation for shocking his readers, and has become increasingly popular since his initial success, with a huge centralised fan base on the internet. His novels often reference actual and made up urban legends.

Biography

Chuck Palahniuk was born Charles Michael Palahniuk on the 21st of February 1962 in Pasco, Washington. His heritage is said to be French and Russian, and his surname is Ukrainian. He was raised in a mobile home in Burbank; however, he also spent time on his grandparent’s cattle ranch in eastern Washington.

Palahniuk graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism in 1986, having interned for KLCC. He moved to Portland and began writing for a local paper, soon after which he switched jobs to work for Freightliner as a diesel mechanic. During this time he wrote manuals for fixing trucks and did a little journalism, and began writing novels. He also began volunteering at a homeless shelter, then as a escort for a hospice where he transported terminally ill patients to their support meetings. He stopped volunteering after a patient with whom he had developed a friendship died.

During this time also, Palahniuk joined the Cacophony Society (described by themselves as “a randomly gathered network of individuals united in the pursuit of experiences beyond the pale of mainstream society through subversion, pranks, art, fringe explorations and meaningless madness”). He regularly participated in their events which helped supply him with inspiration for events in his fictional and non-fictional writing. It is said that he used the Cacophony Society as the basis for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.

Palahniuk attended writers workshops with Tom Spanbauer in his mid thirties and began writing fiction. His first novel, Invisible Monsters was rejected by publishers for being too disturbing, which prompted him to write Fight Club in an effort to disturb the publisher even more. At this stage, he was still working as a mechanic. Palahniuk became a cult figure after the publication of Invisible Monsters and Survivor in conjunction with the movie release of Fight Club in 1999.

1999 may have been the year where Palahniuk became a cult figure but it was also a difficult year for Chuck because his father and his father’s girlfriend were found murdered. The girlfriend’s ex-husband was subsequently charged and convicted for the murders, and Palahniuk apparently began the novel Lullaby during all this time later stating that he used the writing process to help him cope with his decision to help get the murderer a death sentence.

Palahniuk currently lives in Vancouver, Washington.

Bibliography

Fiction

Non-fiction

Genre

Some of the genres Chuck Palahniuk is associated with are: contemporary literature, satire, horror, thriller, journalism, non-fiction, and mystery. He has also been associated with the transgressive fiction movement.

Favourite books

Most influential book:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Top 10 favourite books

  • Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel
  • The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
  • The Ice at the Bottom of the World by Mark Richard
  • The Pugilist at Rest by Thom Jones
  • Drown by Junot Diaz
  • Ill Nature by Joy Williams
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom by Amy Hemple
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London

References