Books Magazine

How I Met Chuck Palahniuk

By Clogsandtulips @clogsandtulips
How I met Chuck PalahniukYears ago, I saw the movie Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Normally that's not my type of movie, but I really enjoyed it. I had no idea it was a book.
A few years later, a guy I was dating was deep into reading this book by an author I'd never heard of before. When I asked if it was any good, he said "Oh yeah! It was written by the guy who wrote Fight Club." Well, I'll be danged - you learn something new everyday!
I caught a glimpse of the author's last name and, though I couldn't even begin to guess how to pronounce it, the spelling of it seared itself in my brain.
Fast-forward 8 years and I'm at a Pub Quiz here in Utrecht. The question was "What book by Chuck Palahniuk was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton?" Of our 10-member team, I was the only one who knew the answer. While the rest of my team gave me momentary goddess status for getting the answer, I could only berate myself for not paying attention to the pronunciation of the guy's last name.
A few weeks after that, my husband and I were enjoying our weekend stroll through the city center of Utrecht when we passed the bookstore Selexyz. Selexyz often has author signings and I've made it a habit of checking the announcements to see if there are any I recognize. There never are.
This particular day, however, there was one name I did: Chuck Palahniuk. I pointed the notice out to my husband telling him it was the guy who wrote Fight Club. "I didn't know that was a book," my husband said. Nevertheless, we both agreed that we would do our best to make it to the book signing.
When we got home, I went to go write it on our calendar only to find out that we would be in the US that day for my 10-year high school reunion. Bummer.
As the time for our vacation drew nearer, we found ourselves with a buyer who wanted to move into our apartment by October 1st and no place to live once we'd moved out. We had our eye on a house and, when our bid was accepted, it was cutting it super close to departure day.
At the suggestion of friends and in-laws, we decided to have a technical inspection done on the house before signing a contract. Which meant that contract signing would have to be postponed until the technical report had been done and we'd gotten the results.
The technical report was scheduled at the earliest possible time: seven days before we were supposed to head State-side. Needless to say, we had to push our trip back by a week.
But this meant we could attend the birthday party of one of my husband's dearest friends. This friend -- Maarten -- has a thing for books. Doesn't matter what kind of book it is, he'll buy it and read it. My kind of guy. So, the obvious place to shop for a birthday gift was a bookstore. And that's exactly what we did.
We stepped over the threshold into Selexyz and stumbled right into a long line. People were waiting with books in hand for a nerdy guy in glasses standing at the other end of the store. A book signing of some sort. We walked right by and found the perfect book for Maarten: the book of Genesis in graphic novel form.
On our way to the checkout, I decided to be nosey and see who this writer was. Wouldn't you know it, we'd ended up at Chuck Palahniuk's book signing!
My husband and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and grab a Chuck Palahniuk book for Maarten as well as a copy of Fight Club for ourselves and stand in line.
And that's how I met Chuck Palahniuk. Not only can I now pronounce his last name, but we finally have a copy of that book we never knew existed with Palahniuk's chicken scratch on the title page saying:
"Enjoy your fights."
Image: Tiffany Jansen
© 2011 Tiffany Jansen, writer

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