Please pardon the tiny size of this photo, and it’s poor quality. If you’ve ever seen the Zoolander-scaled picture-phone I carry, you would be unsurprised that it’s photos are low resolution and not very crisp.
This photo, though, was taken during Chuck Palahniuk’s Atlanta stop on his Snuff book tour. I’ve been to book signings, readings, and literary events of various kinds. From Ellen Degeneres’ mom at Outwrite bookstore, to the various authors, poets and speakers who sprinkled through the events at college.
Now you might think the fabulous gay audience at outwrite would have had the prize for the most audacious and unruly crowd at a literary event. You might think that Outwrite would have managed to entertain their guests with Donna-Reed seamlessness and grace. That, however, was just another ordinary book event as compared to Georgia Perimeter College’s hosting of Chuck Palahniuk yesterday.
The pink blob that is flying through the air in this photo is a blow-up doll (signed, no less) and was one part of the contests and takeaways that Chuck has derived to maintain the interest and energy of his pop-culture-adled target audience.
I admit it, I took notes. I particularly loved the bit where he said he writes about something going on in his life that he can not change, nor can he accept. The serenity prayer as writer’s muse is absolutely brilliant.
There were other really fascinating notes about humanity – how if something is too horrible and too big for us to deal with mentally, we have to digest it by creating lesser and lesser copies of it – a way of culturally chewing cud via movies, books, commemorative plates, porn films, bumper stickers, and T-shirts. He used the Titanic as his example, but I can see the parallel cud-chewing about 9.11 going on as well.
There were really wonderful tidbits about the craft of writing, as well, but I won’t be able to fit them into a single blog.
Mostly, I was amused by how raucous a book reading this was….
I, personally, can have fun at the introverted events as they usually stand…. but this man is a pop culture icon, the subject of fan frenzy, and he has probably learned from more than one book tour past that he cannot expect his naughty acolytes to sit still and behave when they worshipped his nihilism in Fight Club. He has learned by trial and error, that if he doesn’t promise to pass out treats and surprises, that his particular fan base will not patiently wait to ask presumptuous and strange questions.
If he doesn’t tell horrifically funny anecdotes with that twisted and delicious sense of humor, he will not hold rapt attention of this seething throng of readers.
It was a delightful event, made even more a delight by my company, Clarice, who is as patient and introverted as I can be. We were able to discuss the things we gleaned from the message without being distracted by the sparkle and flash of freebies whizzing off the stage.