Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Palahniuk’

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Another Dose of Chuck – The more people die, the more things stay the same.

July 18, 2010

It has been so long I had a two-second memory lapse of my password! I bring you great excerpts, read in two countries: Israel and America. The only thing that connected these two countries was this book. I read it in my grandma’s house, in my other grandma’s apartment, on various airplanes, at home, in a car, and at the beach. So this book and I have gone to many places together. It’s twisted and disturbing, as all of Chuck’s books are, but what dominates is how riveting the storyline is and how the writing just goes forward forward forward, all the time.

Excerpt #64:
People who would never throw litter from their car will drive past you with their radio blaring. People who’d never blow cigar smoke at you in a crowded restaurant will bellow into their cell phone. They’ll shout at each other across the space of a dinner plate.
These people who would never spray herbicides or insecticides will fog the neighborhood with their stereo playing Scottish bagpipe music. Chinese opera. Country and western.
Outdoors, a bird singing is fine. Patsy Cline is not.
Outdoors, the din of traffic is bad enough. Adding Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E Minor is not making the situation any better.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound. You don’t win with a lot of treble.
This isn’t about quality. It’s about volume.
This isn’t about music. This is about winning.
You stomp the competition with the bass line. You rattle windows. You drop the melody line and shout the lyrics. You put in foul language and come down hard on each cussword.
You dominate. This is really about power. (16-17)

Excerpt #65:
These music-oholics. These calm-ophobics.
No one wants to admit we’re addicted to music. That’s just not possible. No one’s addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can’t be without it, but no, nobody’s addicted.
We could turn it off anytime we wanted. (18)

The sound shivers through the walls, through the table, through the window frame, and into my finger.
These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics.
Old George Orwell got it backward.
Big brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.
He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled.
And this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world. (18-19)

Excerpt #66:
There are worse things you can do to the people you love than kill them. The regular way is just to watch the world do it. Just read the newspaper.
The music and laughter eat away at your thoughts. The noise blots them out. All the sound distracts. Your head aches from the glue.
Anymore, no one’s mind is their own. You can’t concentrate. You can’t think. There’s always some noise worming in. Singers shouting. Dead people laughing. Actors crying. All these little doses of emotion.
Someone’s always spraying the air with their mood. (19)

Excerpt #67:
In a world where the culling song was common knowledge, there would be sound blackouts. Like during wartime, wardens would patrol. But instead of hunting for light, they’d listen for noise and tell people to shut up. The way governments look for air and water pollution, these same governments would pinpoint anything above a whisper, then make an arrest. There would be helicopters, special muffled helicopters, of course, to search for noise the way they search for marijuana now. People would tiptoe around in rubber-soled shoes. Informers would listen at ever keyhole.
It would be a dangerous, frightened world, but at least you could sleep with your windows open. It would be a world where each word was worth a thousand pictures. (60)

Excerpt #68, (on a ferris wheel):
We rise higher, farther from the smells, away from the diesel engine noise. We rise up into the quiet and cold. Mona, reading the planner book, gets smaller. All the crowds of people, their money and elbows and cowboy boots, get smaller. The food booths and the portable toilets get smaller. The screams and rock music, smaller.
At the top, we jerk to a stop. Our seat sways less and less until we’re sitting still. This high up, the breeze teases, rats, back-combs Helen’s pink bubble of hair. The neon grease an d mud, from this far away, it all looks perfect. Perfect, safe, and happy.
The music’s just a dull thud, thud, thud.
This is how we must look to God. (199)

Excerpt #69:
Looking out the car window, Oyster says, “You ever wonder if Adam and Eve were just the puppies God dumped because they wouldn’t house-train?”
He rolls down the window and the smell blows inside, the stinking warm wind of dead fish, and shouting against the wind, he says, “Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet.” (143)

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk

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WHAT?

September 8, 2009

That was my reaction to more than several parts in this book. A book that is constantly shocking and disturbing and dark and kind of hysterical. I’m not going to give these excerpts much of an introduction…but it had me wide-eyed, re-reading passages and realizing – yes, it’s THAT vulgar and graphic. It had me literally rolling on the carpet and laughing, reading the sentence again and laughing some more. It had me feel deep sorrow for this guy, the main character named Victor. My brother told me not to read this book, and I can see why, but…it’s good to read something like this every once in a while. Gritty, disgusting, somewhat depressing,  yet alluring all the same. Oh, one last thing you should know, Victor is a sexaholic, stuck on his 4th step, writing all of his sins having to do with his addiction in a notebook, the worst parts of his life. That doesn’t play a big role in the excerpts I chose, but in the book…it takes up about 1/3 of the plot. The bolding was my doing. If you don’t feel like reading these lengthy excerpts, at least read the bolded parts. Please.

Excerpt #35:
If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.
After a couple pages, you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away. Get out while you’re still in one piece.
Save yourself.
There has to be something better on television. Or since you have so much time on your hands, maybe you could take a night course. Become a doctor. You could make something out of yourself. Treat yourself to a dinner out. Color your hair.
You’re not getting any younger.
What happens here is first going to piss you off. After that it just gets worse and worse.
What you’re getting here is a stupid story about a stupid little boy. A stupid true life story about nobody you’d ever want to meet. Picture this little spaz being about waist high with a handful of blond hair, combed and parted on one side. Picture the icky little shit smiling in old school photos with some of his baby teeth missing and his first adult teeth coming in crooked. Picture him wearing a stupid sweater striped blue and yellow, a birthday sweater that used to be his favorite. Even that young, picture him biting his dickhead fingernails. His favorite shoes are Keds. His favorite food, fucking corn dogs.
Imagine some dweeby little boy wearing no seat belt and riding in a stolen school bus with his mommy after dinner. Only there’s a police car parked at their motel so the Mommy just blows on past at sixty or seventy miles an hour.
This is about a stupid little weasel who, for sure, used to be about the stupidest little rat fink crybaby twerp that ever lived. (1-2)

Excerpt #36:
The monitor shows me one old woman after another. Then for ten seconds, there’s Paige pushing my mom in a wheelchair down another corridor. Dr. Paige Marshall. And I dial around until I hear my mom’s voice.
“Yes,” she says, “I fought against everything, but more and more I worry that I was never for anything.” 
The monitor shows the garden, old women hunched over walkers. Mired in gravel.
“Oh, I can criticize and complain and judge everything, but what does that get me?” my mom keeps saying in voice-over as the monitor cycles to show other rooms.
The monitor shows the dining room, empty.
The monitor shows the garden. More old people.
This could be some very depressing website. Death Cam.
Some kind of black-and-white documentary.
“Griping isn’t the same as creating something,” my mom’s voice-over says. “Rebelling isn’t rebuilding. Ridiculing isn’t replacing…” And the voice in the speaker fades out.
The monitor shows the dayroom, the woman facedown in her puzzle.
And I dial-switch from number to number, searching. On number five, her voice is back. “We’ve taken the world apart,” she says, “but we have no idea what to do with the pieces…” And her voice is gone, again.
The monitor shows one empty corridor after another stretching into darkness.
On number seven, the voice comes back: “My generation, all of our making fun of things isn’t making the world any better,” she says. “We’ve spent so much time judging what other people created that we’ve created very, very little of our own.”
Out of the speaker, her voice says, “I used rebellion as a way to hide out. We use criticism as a fake participation.”
The voice-over says, “It only looks as if we’ve accomplished something.”
The voice-over says, “I’ve never contributed anything worthwhile to the world.”
And for ten seconds, the monitor shows my mom and Paige in the corridor just outside the crafts room.
Out of the speaker, scratchy and far away, Paige’s voice says, “What about your son?”
My nose pressed to the monitor, I’m so close.
And now the monitor shows me with my ear pressed to the speaker, one hand shaking something, fast, inside my pant leg.
In voice-over, Paige says, “What about Victor?”
And for serious, I am so ready to trigger.
And my mom’s voice says, “Victor? No doubt Victor has his own way of escaping.” (111-112)
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Excerpt #36:
The Mommy, she used to tell him she was sorry. People had been working for so many years to make the world a safe, organized place. Nobody realized how boring it would become. With the whole world property-lined and speed-limited and zoned and taxed and regulated, with everyone tested and registered and addressed and recorded. Nobody had left much room for adventure, except maybe the kind you could buy. On a roller coaster. At a movie. Still, it would always be that kind of faux excitement. You know the dinosaurs aren’t going to eat the kids. The test audiences have outvoted any chance of even a major faux disaster. And because there’s no possibility of real disaster, real risk, we’re left with no chance for real salvation. Real elation. Real excitement. Joy. Discovery. Invention.
The laws that keep us safe, these same laws condemn us to boredom.
Without access to true chaos, we’ll never have true peace. 
Unless everything can get worse, it won’t get any better.
This is all stuff the Mommy used to tell him.
She used to say, “The only frontier you have left is the world of intangibles. Everything else is sewn up too tight.” 
Caged inside too many laws.
By intangibles, she meant the Internet, movies, music, stories, art, rumors, computer programs, anything that isn’t real. Virtual realities. Make-believe stuff. The culture.
The unreal is more powerful than the real.
Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it.
Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. 
But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.

If you can change the way people think, she said. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. If you do that, you can change the way people live their lives. And that’s the only lasting thing you can create. 
Besides, at some point, the Mommy  used to say, your memories, your stories and adventures, will be the only things you’ll have left. 
At her last trial, before this last time she went to jail, the Mommy had sat up next to the judge and said, “My goal is to be an engine of excitement in people’s lives.”
She’d stared into the stupid little boy’s eyes and said, “My purpose is to give people glorious stories to tell.”
Before the guards took her into the back wearing handcuffs, she’d shouted, “Convicting me would be redundant. Our bureaucracy and our laws have turned the world into a clean, safe  work camp.
She shouted, “We are raising a generation of slaves.”
And it was back to prison for Ida Mancini.
“Incorrigible” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind. 
The unidentified woman, the whole who ran down the aisle during the ballet, she was screaming, “We are teaching our children to be helpless.”
Running down the aisle and out a fire exit, she’d yelled, “We’re so structured and micromanaged, this isn’t a world anymore, it’s a damn cruise ship.” (159-161)

Excerpt #37:
So Saturday means visiting my mom.
In the lobby of St. Anthony’s, talking to the front desk girl, I tell her I’m Victor Mancini and I’m here to see my mom, Ida Mancini.
I say, “Unless, I mean, unless she’s dead.”
The front desk girl gives me that look, the one where you tuck your chin down and look at the person you feel so, so sorry for. You tilt your face down so your eyes have to look up at the person. That look of submission. Lift your eyebrows into your hairline as you look up. It’s that look of infinite pity. Squash your mouth down into a frowny face, and you’ll know the exact way the front desk girl is looking at me.
And she says, “Of course your mother is still with us.”
And I say, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I kind of wish she wasn’t.”
Her face forgets for a second how sorry she is, and her lips pull back to show her teeth. The way to make most women break eye contact is to run your tongue around your lips. The ones who don’t look away, for serious, bingo.
Just go back, she tells me. Mrs. Mancini is still on the first floor. 
It’s Miss Mancini, I tell her. My mom’s not married, unless you count me in that creepy Oedipal way. 
I ask if Paige Marshall is here.
“Of course she is,” the front desk girl says, now with her face turned a little away from me, looking at me out of the corner of her eye. The look of distrust. 
Beyond the security doors, all the crazy old Irmas and Lavernes, the Violets and Olives start their slow migration of walkers and wheelchairs coming my way. All the chronic undressers. All the dumped grannies and squirrels with their pockets full of chewed food, the ones who forget how to swallow, their lungs full of food and drink. 
All of them, smiling at me. Beaming. They’re all wearing those plastic bracelets that keep the doors locked, but they still look better than I feel. 

In the dayroom, the smell of roses and lemons and pine. The loud little world begging for attention from inside the television. The shattered jigsaw puzzles. Nobody’s moved my mom up to the third floor yet, the death floor, and in her room Paige Marshall’s sitting in a tweed recliner, reading her clipboard with her glasses on, and when she sees me says, “Look at you.” She says, “Your mother isn’t the only one who could use a stomach tube.”
I say I got her message.
My mom is. She’s just in bed. She’s just asleep is all, her stomach just a bloated little mound under the covers. Her bones are the only thing left in her arms and hands. Her head sunk in her pillow, she squeezes her eyes shut. The corners of her jaw swell as her teeth clench for a moment, and she brings her whole face together to swallow.  
Her eyes fall open, and she stretches her green-gray fingers at me, in a creepy underwater way, a slow-motion swimming stroke, trembling the way light does at the bottom of a swimming pool, when you’re little and staying overnight in some motel just off some highway. The plastic bracelet hangs around her wrist, and she says, “Fred.”
She swallows again, her whole face bunching with the effort and says, “Fred Hastings.” Her eyes roll to one side and she smiles at Paige. “Tammy,” she says “Fred and Tammy Hastings.”
Her old defense attorney and his wife.
All my notes for being Fred Hastings are at home. If I drive a Ford or a Dodge, I can’t remember. How many kids I’m supposed to have. What color did we finally paint the dining room. I can’t remember a single detail about how I’m supposed to live my life.
Paige is still sitting in the recliner, I step close to her and put a hand on her lab coat shoulder and say, “How are you feeling, Mrs. Mancini?”
Her terrible green-gray hand comes up level and rocks from side to side, the universal sign language for so-so. With her eyes closed, she smiles and says, “I was hoping you’d be Victor.”
Paige shrugs my hand off her shoulder.
“And I say, “I thought you liked me better.”
I say, “Nobody likes Victor very much.” (224-226)

-Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk

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So Messed Up It’s Good

April 29, 2009

Excerpt #25:
Don’t expect this to be the kind of story that goes: and then, and then, and then, and then.
What happens here will have more of that fashion magazine feel, a Vogue or Glamour magazine chaos with page numbers on every second or fifth or third page. Perfume cards falling out, and full-page naked women coming out of nowhere to sell you make-up.
Don’t look for a contents page, buried magazine-style twenty pages back from the front. Don’t expect to find anything right off. There isn’t a real pattern to anything, either. Stories will start and then, three paragraphs later:
Jump to page whatever.
Then, jump back.
This will be ten thousand fashion separates that mix and match to create maybe five tasteful outfits. A million trendy accessories, scarves and belts, shoes and hats and gloves, and no real clothes to wear them with.
And you really, really need to get used to that feeling, here, on the freeway, at work, in your marriage. This is the world we live in. Just go with the prompts. (20-21)

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When on top of the space needle in Seattle, I want to do what the characters in this book do.

Excerpt #26:
“Tell the world what scares you most,” says Brandy.
She gives us each an Aubergine Dreams eyebrow pencil and says, “Save the world with some advice from the future.”
Seth writes on the back of a card and hands the card to Brandy for her to read.
On game shows, Brandy reads, some people will take the trip to France, but most people will take the washer dryer pair.
Brandy puts a big Plumbago kiss on the little square for the stamp and lets the wind lift the card and sail it off toward the towers of downtown Seattle
Seth hands her another, and Brandy reads:
Game shows are designed to make us feel better about the random, useless facts that are all we have left of our education.
A kiss, and the card’s on its way toward Lake Washington.
From Seth:
When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?
A kiss, and it’s off on the wind toward Ballard.
Only when we eat up this planet will God give us another. We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create.
Interstate 5 snakes by in the distance. From high atop the Space Needle, the southbound lanes are red chase lighst, and the northbound lanes are white chase lights. I take a card and write:
I love Seth Thomas so much I have to destroy him. I overcompensate by worshiping the queen supreme. Seth will never love me. No one will ever love me again.
Brandy is waiting to take the card and read it out loud. Brandy’s waiting to read my worst fears to the world, but I don’t give her the card. I kiss it myself with the lips I don’t’ have and let the wind take it out of my hand. The card flies up, up, up to the stars and then falls down to land in the suicide net.
While I watch my future trapped in the suicide net, Brandy reads another card from Seth.
We are all self-composting.
I write on another card frmo the future, and Brandy  reads it.
When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.
An updraft lifts my worst fears from the suicide net and sails them away.
Seth writes and Brandy reads.
You have to keep recycling yourself.
I write and Brandy reads.
Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.
I write and Brandy reads.
The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.
(102-104)

-Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk