An Interview with Chuck Palahniuk

Liberty Hardy: Your new book, Damned is about Satan and the afterlife – do you believe in an afterlife?

Chuck Palahniuk: It seems so arrogant to NOT believe in an afterlife—as if I knew everything there was to know. I hardly know how to spell. But it seems equally as arrogant to assume to know the details of The Afterlife.  As is, I’ll just focus on the being-alive-now part.

LH: Do you have any thoughts or hopes about Damned that are different than you’ve had for past books?

CP: I hope it’s the book that replaces Fight Club and Choke, and the short story Guts in people’s minds. May I find my redemption by going to Hell.  My book Snuff is being banned overseas. I hope Damned gets banned. Everywhere.

LH: Many authors have now tried their hand at writing for a younger audience – ever given it any thought?

CP: Why not write for an adult audience and trust that young people will also like your work?  When I was a child, wearing a whalebone corset and rolling a hoop in ancient Thebes, the only young adult book we had was Flowers in the Attic. It was dirtier than The Other Side of Midnight.  Frankly, I don’t think I’m perverted enough to write for young adults.

LH: How do you feel about the future of print books?

CP: After my somewhat sketchy experience with DVD’s—the scratches, the skipping, the frustration of decaying digital information—I think readers will want paper copies of the books they love.  Cheap books, the fast-food-kind of books that people read once and discard, those might go completely digital, but beautifully produced paper books will stay around, if only because people want square objects which are easy to wrap at Christmas.  Ever wrap a tennis racket?  Good luck with that.

LH: You are a big advocate of Lidia Yukanavitch’s new memoir – any other writers or books you’re recommending these days?

CP: Oh, what a treat you have waiting for you!  Very soon, Electric Literature magazine will publish a bold, brilliant new essay by Amy Hempel called “A Full-Service Shelter.”  It’s all the confirmation you need that life is worth living.  Amy Hempel is god enough for the time being; her work makes me glad to be alive and not dead.  For something longer, look for “The Devil All the Time,” a new novel by Donald Ray Pollock—stupendous.  And dive into the story collection “Miles from Nowhere” by Nami Mun.  I wish I could erase my brain just for the thrill of reading all of these books, again, for the first time.  And thank you for mentioning Lidia’s book, “Chronology of Water.”  Memoir is not my favorite… anything, but Lidia Yukanavitch wrote one of the few I’ve loved.

Liberty Hardy, a voracious reader, sits behind the counters at RiverRun Bookstore and The Music Hall, at the switchboard in the Write Place, Write Time ( secret volcano lair, and is the creative consultant for a video game development company.