Letters

Chuck Palahniuk's fans fight back!


Salon Staff
August 21, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

[Read the review of "Diary," by Laura Miller.]

Ms. Miller's fact-checking of Mr. Palahniuk's novels missed a true howler: In "Choke," the protagonist gets a sex toy stuck in his posterior for several days, which is clearly impossible. Ms. Miller, as an expert in anal retention, should have recognized this immediately.

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I wish Ms. Miller would turn her fact-checking criticisms on such factually lazy writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway needs a good flogging for his simplistic writing style. And Mark Twain should be exhumed and pilloried for making his uneducated characters talk so ineloquently.

Thank goodness Ms. Miller has saved me from reading another Palahniuk novel. I can now devote myself to enjoying real art.

-- Chad Eberle

I thought your review of Chuck Palahniuk was way off base. It was no surprise to me that when I finished the article, and looked at the writer's name, it was a woman. Laura Miller's attitude is typical of the female response to Palahniuk's work. A simple "stupid men" attempt to shrug off real ideas and complaints about the modern world and the bullshit that gets shoved down our throats on a daily basis from chain stores to the feminization of men by the ultrafeminists. Her reference to "veiled homoeroticism" in "Fight Club" is also typical. Typical of a lazy reviewer who finds it easier to say "they are secretly gay" than it is to say "these guys have a serious grievance." Why is it that every time men don't want to deal with women in novels, they suddenly are secretly homosexual? Ever think we just don't want to hear the bitching and moaning about curtains and knockoff dresses anymore?

Lastly, your comments on Palahniuk's writing style are just plain wrong. If you had a sense of humor, you'd easily find plenty to keep you entertained, if you could put aside your preconceived notions of how horrible books aimed at men are.

-- Greg Hevia

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It sounds to me that you have some sort of personal vendetta against Chuck Palahniuk. Despite you saying "Reading Palahniuk is a revelation of sorts because it shows that bad fiction works exactly the same way: It's execrable on a sentence-by-sentence basis as well as in overall form and theme. The bad writer, it turns out, picks exactly the wrong detail, flubs it, and then tosses it like a stink bomb in the path of the reader dutifully struggling to follow him," Chuck manages to sell lots of books. In addition he is on the favorites list at Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble. Also you say: "Reading this is like being cornered by a dimwitted and semi-belligerent drunk possessed by an idée fixe he keeps reciting over and over again, jabbing your shoulder each time. Several dozen paragraphs in 'Diary' begin with 'Just for the record...' for no detectable reason." Well, apparently you don't get why she refers to her moods and feelings as weather reports, early on in the book she says that during a war, soldiers and their wives would keep diaries of every day they were apart, common topics were the WEATHER and their emotions ... So that's why she relates her emotions to the weather.

Also, your opinions are very biased and somewhat prejudiced when it comes to Chuck's target audience. You say: "It's that strangely oversize fellow you sometimes get seated next to on airplanes or in bars, the one who loudly testifies to 'laughing my ass off' all the way through Palahniuk's 'fucking twisted' books and then glares, as if daring you to deny that such a thing is possible or that he is one dark and edgy dude." Well, that's like me saying that every woman who reads a book from Oprah Winfrey's Book of the Month club is a middle-aged, overweight, menopausal old hag that has nothing better to do with her life than watch "Oprah" and bitch. With that said I'll close my letter by saying you totally missed the whole meaning and plot of this book.

-- Alex Matthews

The author poses the question to the reader: "In 'Diary' there's ... a glass of 'bright orange' wine (when was the last time you saw wine the color of Tang?)..."

I was once at a wine tasting and had a taste of a somewhat expensive Australian port that was precisely the color of Tang (and tasted like varnish, but that's neither here nor there). Satisfied?

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-- Adam Rettberg


Salon Staff

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