Tuesday, May 26, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Books That Hooked Me (Part 4)


Next on my series of Books that Hooked Me, books that really had an impact on me is one that really changed my writing style massively. I was working in the cinema while Debs was working in graphic design and magazine layout, and (I've mentioned on this blog in the movies that made me series) there was a movie that I really wasn't interested in. One that was so badly marketed that I remember saying "Why would I want to see a movie about bareknuckle fighting?"

I was an usher for that first showing in the cinema, and hung around to make sure the very few people who had come in for that midweek lunchtime performance were settled and sat... and those first ten-twenty minutes of the movie Fight Club just had me absolutely hooked. I was stunned - a combination of the visuals, the flashback, the narration. Mindblowing.

I remember going back to work thinking "I need to watch the rest of it", and it wasn't long before Debs and I checked out the wonders that was David Fincher's Fight Club. I loved it, and saw it multiple times when it was screening.

It was only a few days after seeing the movie that I decided I needed to check out the book it was based upon. The book of Fight Club is surprisingly close to the movie except for a couple of small elements - there are whole chunks of the movie, especially Jack's narration, that are word-for-word from the book. There was an energy to the style, the way it addressed the reader, that was completely new to me. It was incredibly eye-opening.

Of course, that lead on to Survivor (which was brilliant), and Invisible Monsters (which has one of the greatest opening couple of pages I've read)... I was hooked.

On to Choke, a tale of someone who lives off of donations from people who "saved" him from choking in restaurants, and then onto my favourite of Palahniuk's books - Haunted. I've never been much of a short story reader, but Haunted addresses the short story in a new way. A tale of seventeen writers who go to a writers retreat where they have three months to write their magnum opus. They have food and drink, but cannot leave until it is complete.

The chapters are each of the characters' stories, and bridged with a linking narrative of these writers gradually sabotaging the food, and descend into a mass of self destruction. I guess you could say it's allegorical for how writers sabotage themselves...

On came Rant, which was really clever in the way it told its tale by second hand accounts of witnesses, but it was with his next book, Snuff, that I kinda gave up. Sorry Chuck... Couldn't finish that one.

At the peak of my reading Chuck Palahniuk, when I did try to write fiction it was really like I was channelling my inner Palahniuk. There were flashbacks, asides, weird narration. C'mon, Dave. Have your own voice...

Anyway, Fight Club was a real eye opener for me, and changed my reading and writing habits tremendously.

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