A Night of Havoc
Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first Chuck Palahniuk event, hosted by McNally Robinson Booksellers at the Isabel Bader Theatre. Chuck’s new book, Pygmy, went on sale last week and his devoted (I’m not using that term lightly) fans were eager to get their hands on signed copies and meet their idol in person. I arrived two hours before the start of the event, and the line was already long. As per Chuck’s request, some of the attendees arrived creatively attired as U.N. delegates (an homage to the climax of Pygmy).
When Chuck arrived, the crowd cheered, whistled and clapped. He stopped to chat with the faithful folks at the front of the line.
He signed a heck of a lot of books, and patiently posed with very happy devotees.
And then the fun really began. Over the course of the evening, Chuck entertained us with his hilarious retellings of 'fairy tales' in Pygmy speak (read one of them here); he was interrupted by a “sext” from Margaret Atwood (he assured the crowd that “boys only tease the writers they like”); and he whipped about 200 inflatable penguins at us (plus one lone naked inflatable man). Seriously. The crowd lapped it up.
In conversation, Chuck talked about the origins of Pygmy’s hilarious pidgin English (it was modeled on his own bad German as well as his older Ukranian immigrant relatives who “will never see his work, so they won’t be hurt”). He explained that writing in Pygmy’s voice actually wasn’t that difficult, and he and his friends made a game out of talking in Pygmy speak. The quotes from fascist dictators peppered throughout the book also came from a challenge to his friends (wouldn’t it be fun to be Chuck Palahniuk’s pal?).
When asked about how he started writing, Chuck told us about the writing workshop he’s attended every Thursday night for 20 years. He said that even if he never sold a piece of work, he would still be writing just for the Thursday night parties. The man likes to have fun; hence the penguins, the stories, the humour. ‘Twas a fun night indeed, and I too am now a devoted disciple of the cult of Chuck.
Want in on the fun? Sign up for Operation Havoc.