Book Review: Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories, by Chuck Palahniuk


This is the first book that I listened to in audiobook format. That is, I downloaded an audio file of someone reading the book, and then listened to it on my iPod. I got it from Audible, which is a pretty cool site. The books are a lot cheaper than buying them physically, or even getting the same audio files from iTunes. And here’s a secret…follow this link and you get two books for free. You’re supposed to have bought a certain iPod accessory to get the offer, but it’s not like they check if you actually have it. I just signed up, got the two free books, then cancelled the account. Nice.

Anyway, Stranger Than Fiction is a collection of essays that Palahniuk has written for various sources. Thus, it’s sort of a mish-mash of random topics, some of which are fascinating, and others less so.

I enjoyed the autobiographical stuff the best. Much of it is about Fight Club, and the consequences of it being adapted into a popular movie. Palahniuk writes about how his jealousy of Brad Pitt’s lips caused him to invest in a lip pump (sort of like a penis pump, but to give you bigger lips instead of a longer schlong); how most of Fight Club is based on true stories that he and his friends experienced, and the weirdness of seeing people imitating actors imitating characters in a book imitating real people; how people get annoyed when he doesn’t reveal the location of real fight clubs. Funny stuff. There is also some material about writing itself. For me, it’s always fascinating to hear about what fiction writers think about writing itself, given how mysterious of a process writing fiction can be.

Less interesting, but still worth reading, are some of the other random topics. The worst offender was the overly long chapter about people who dedicate their lives to building castles. I like hearing about the people who do that, but I really didn’t need to hear the details on how to keep moister out of a concrete building.

Overall, it’s worth reading, to see a bit into the mind of a unique author like Palahniuk, and learn a bit about some of the fascinating people and situations he has encountered. Especially if you are a fan of his fictional work.

One last note, though…don’t get the audiobook version. It says “Unabridged Selections” in its title, which apparently does not mean you get the whole book. You get whole chapters (i.e. “selections”), but not all of them. I have no idea why two or three chapters were left out, but it sucks that I missed them.

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