What could be better than a generous act from someone who doesn’t have to take any action at all? Especially if that someone wrote one (or several) of your favorite books.
A few years ago, I wrote a letter to Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club and much more. It was the only piece of physical (non-digital) fan mail I’ve ever written. Through his website, Chuck had agreed to take letters during a one-month window and respond personally to every single one.
When the response came, it was in a brown box, about the size of a phone book. Inside was a switch-blade comb, a chocolate cigar (I had told him that Janette was pregnant), a pirate-themed coloring book, and many other weird little gifts, including a letter.
That letter changed my life. One of the first sentences was, “Wow, you can really write.” I thought my head would explode, I was so excited. He also said I should never get my Tourette’s under control, because books tours are boring and Tourette’s is not.
As to the writing part: whether he was sincere or just being a cool guy, I won’t worry about, but if you’re a writer, you know how far a little encouragement can go.
I already loved to write, but seeing another person–and an author I loved, no less–committed me to a path I’d never leave.
Literally from that minute forward, I began writing every day, more and more, eventually finishing The Knot and a bunch of short stories I’d been piddling around with forever.
And writing changed my life. And continues to do so, every single day. Writing has taught me so much about who I am and what I think and how I see the world.
And with that, I want to tell you about my three favorite books by Chuck Palahniuk. I’m not going to describe them in depth. Reading a Palahniuk novel is as much about what it feels like to read the novel as what the novel is about. The plot really isn’t the point.
My absolute favorite. Survivor is told by a guy on an airplane. He has hijacked it and plans to crash it. The story of how he came to be on the plane is the core of the book. That story involves him leaving a religious community to become a media messiah.
It involves a woman named Fertility Hollis. It involves dancing in morgues and artificial flowers and pills and a riot at the Super Bowl and a landfill full of porn and more house-keeping tips than you can imagine.
Does it sound weird? If you haven’t read it you have no idea how weird it is.
There is a song that, when sung (or even imagined, by the end) kills anyone who hears it. And there is a man who gets the song stuck in his head. And the more annoyed he gets with life and all of its problems, the more people die, because he can’t get the song out of his head.
There’s a lot more to it, including a witch, lots of precious gemstones, a scam artist named Oyster, a book bound in skin, and a levitating sex scene.
It might be even stranger than Survivor.
3. Fight Club
I don’t need to say much about Fight Club. It’s great and I love the movie too. If you aren’t familiar with it even by name, then you live in a pop-culture black hole and I’m jealous of you–I’m not going to try and convince you to leave.
Fight Club put Chuck on the map, deservedly so.
The best part of all
Oh one more thing. On the top of the letter I received, it says “Your Power Panda is Enclosed!”
There was also a small plush panda bear in the box. He now sits next to my computer (along with the letter) every time I write. Chuck responded to everyone who wrote to him, but it feels like I was the only one.
A generous act from a man who didn’t have to take any action at all. What could be better than doing something good for someone, just because you could?
PS: If I had continued the list, it would have gone–Choke, Diary, and Haunted.
If you liked this post, please Subscribe To The RSS feed.
And if you’re really awesome, join the book club.