In January 2006 I picked up my first Chuck Palahniuk book, a collection of true short stories called Stranger than Fiction. The following week I read Choke not knowing what I was getting myself into. Choke was so intense. When I finished reading it, I immediately smoked a cigarette. (For those wondering, I usually don’t smoke. However, that day I smoked a Newport.) After Choke I read Fight Club. It was just like the movie. Maybe better.
I quickly moved on to Invisible Monsters. Perhaps my favorite Palahniuk book. I read it in two days. I couldn’t put it down. I was hooked on this guy’s writing. I had a different book in hand or on my desk from week to week. People at work had mistaken me for avid reader. Wanna know the sad truth? In the previous five years, I must have started reading at least two dozen books, but I didn’t finish any of them. Reading stacks of newspapers and PC/technology mags was a piece of cake, but novels put me right to sleep. I was excited to be reading something other than magazines, newspapers and that David Sedaris.
Three weeks go by and I’m already on my 5th book. The next book I picked up was Palahniuk’s most recent work—Haunted. Parts were definitely hard to swallow, like Guts, but I got through all 400+ pages of that horror. I saw it as a character building experience. Reading Haunted made me stronger. Not physically stronger, but it was the kind of courage I needed at that particular time. I just turned 36. For a few minutes in between rounds of beer and/or wine with friends at IPND (the Italian Place Next Door), I found myself thinking—Yikes! I am now 36 years old. I am closer to being 50 than 20.
Back to me and my one-person book club… In less than two months, I read every Palahniuk book. A couple of them twice. Guess what I recently discovered browsing through MySpace… Chuck Palahniuk and I have the same birthday—February 21. I wonder how many other people were born on the same day as their favorite writer. Kinda cool. Yet kinda creepy.