"Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories"
by Chuck Palahniuk
Published by Anchor Books 2004
After a long run with reading some serious hardcore science fiction and fantasy novels I had to take a break and read some non-fiction. This tells you what genre my next book review will fall under. Anyway, I decided to ease into the Non-fiction by reading this book by one of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk. Chuck is the author of some pretty strange pieces of fiction, many of you know of "Fight Club" and maybe "Choke" both of which were made into pretty decent film adaptations. The reason I consider this book easing into the non-fiction genre is that,well, to put it bluntly, reality in Chuck Palahniuk's world can be surreal.
This book is a collection of essays, stories, and interviews written for various magazines and newspapers. Some of the pieces had also been previously published on the internet. The stories cover 3 main categories: "People Together", articles about people who find unique ways of achieving togetherness; "Portraits", interviews and short essays mostly about famous individuals; and "Personal", autobiographical pieces. The introduction to the book is Mr. Palahniuk talking about the world of writing and what it takes to be a fiction writer, very interesting, indeed. The book then breaks into the first story, "Testy Festy," which covers the immoral and deviant behavior that happens at the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival in rural Montana. From the opening line of that story I thought, uh oh, what have I gotten myself into? Well he is merely reporting the goings on of this raucous festival and it is definitely "Stranger than Fiction."
There are several stories in this collection that range from the bohemian activities of the Testicle Festival to celebrity interviews with Juliette Lewis and Marilyn Manson to some autobiographical essays in which the reader learns more details behind the murder of his father by the father's girlfriend's psychopathic ex-boyfriend.
Some of the stories are very funny and some are quite poignant. One of the funnier ones is his coverage of the Lind Combine Demolition Derby in Lind, Washington. Rednecks crashing combines seems like it would be fun. One of the stories is "The People Can" where chuck is reporting on the life of the crew on board the submarine USS Louisiana. Being an ex-Navy man myself I found the civilian insight on this story very interesting. One of the saddest stories is when he tells of his life as an assembly-line drivetrain installer by day, hospice volunteer driver by night.
So if you are a Chuck Palahniuk fan you will find this collection of true stories very interesting told from his point of view. If you have yet latched on to the writings of Palahniuk check this one out, it will prepare you for the world that is in Chuck Palahnuik's novels.