Letters

Chuck Palahniuk responds to Laura Miller's review of his latest book. Plus: Salon readers on Palahniuk fans.

Topics: Books,

[Read Laura Miller's review of "Diary."]

Dear Laura Nelson [sic],

I have never responded to a review, perhaps because I’ve never gotten such a cruel and mean-spirited one.

Please send me a copy of your latest book. I’d love to read it.

Until you can create something that captivates people, I’d invite you to just shut up. It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one. I’d also invite you to read the reviews Fitzgerald got for “Gatsby” from dull, sad, bitter people — like yourself.

– Chuck Palahniuk

[Readers respond to letters from Palahniuk fans.]

Last summer, I was unlucky enough to have to work a Chuck Palahniuk reading. This is not to say Mr. Palahniuk himself wasn’t delightful; although I am mostly unfamiliar with his work, he was a fine reader, a gracious man, and a large source of revenue for the store. The reason for my irritation had everything to do with his fans.

I have never seen a crowd of bigger poseurs in my life. There were Angry Young Men wearing sunglasses indoors and Angry Young Men with wallet chains. There was even a group of about five Angry Young Men with matching dyed black hair and matching gray suits and matching boots with spurs. It was as though the bookstore had been sucked through a teleporter and was transformed into a Nine Inch Nails concert circa 1995. These 18- to 34-year-old white men were so disaffected! They vented their societal frustrations by freaking out the squares. Problem was, the only squares nearby were we 20-something independent-bookstore clerks.

Palahniuk’s reading was unique in that his fans treated him like a rock star. They whooped and hollered and whistled when he appeared, and clapped loudly when he read something they liked. To their credit, I found this refreshing. At the end of the reading, they lined up to meet Palahniuk. To his credit, he mocked them. There was a lad of about 19 with a moustache that appeared to have been drawn on with a Sharpie. Palahniuk said something to the effect of, “What the fuck is on your face, son?” This, too, was refreshing.

You Might Also Like

It was with great horror that I read the angry letters to Laura Miller. I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, including the poseurs I saw that night. Reading those letters upset me because, as it turns out, some fans are as dumb as they look. Against what, exactly, are these dudes rebelling? The very same patriarchy that force-feeds them cheap Swedish furniture shares their hatred for radical feminists and literary critics. Self-styled rebels who defer to Barnes & Noble recommended reading lists should be locked in a room where Kathleen Hanna will read them the Baffler.

– Eugenia Williamson

It’s a pity that, thus far, all of the letters defending Palahniuk (and attacking, alternately, the reviewer and all women) were written by men. I find the criticism that Palahniuk’s novels are written for one kind of audience to be lazy and, worse, boring. That the published responses only support such a criticism is execrable. There’s plenty I could say to respond to those flaws Miller found in the book itself, but I prefer to say simply, for the record, that I, a very well educated and astute woman who drools only a little, like Palahniuk’s work.

– Kimberly McColl

I’ll have to say that I agree with the men who responded to Laura Miller’s review of Chuck Palahniuk (and I am a 47-year-old female librarian). The “truth” in Palahniuk’s books should not be sought out by trivial fact-finding, but in the parable he tells. Why are women so distraught about his portrayal of men and women? Are we afraid that the story tells us of something “real” in our society?

– Jan Bailey

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>