It’s Day 12 and we’re thrilled to present Chuck Palahniuk’s gift list. Palahniuk is a two-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award (for Fight Club, 1997 and Lullaby, 2003); an author who holds the distinction of causing the most people to faint at readings since Dickens; and the kind of guy who would woo a room full of booksellers by decking himself out in dozens of pieces of vintage costume jewelry for the taking. He really did that—and what a spectacle it was, a laughing, squealing horde of booksellers, all of us trying to get our hands on Chuck and his, um, jewels. We’ve still got our brooch!
As part of a long-time partnership, Palahniuk makes his signed and inscribed books available from St. Helens Book Shop, which is where we’re linking his list today.
He lists, in no particular order:
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. My absolute addiction to short stories led me to Don’s first book, Knockemstiff, a collection of Midwestern Gothic horrorstories. They’re not ‘horror’ in the rats-fog-monsters mold, but they’re horrifying. The Devil All the Time is Don’s first novel, and it blends gruesome crime writing with all the drama and pathos of E.A.Poe. In contrast, Don’s an absolute sweetheart. I’ve shared the stage with him at several book events, and he’s a genuinely soft-spoken nice guy.
Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. No less of an authority than Amy Hempel recommended this book to me. It’s a collection of stories that follow one teenaged girl through her drug-addicted life on the streets. It’s hard to believe that a book this sad and violent could also be so hilarious. The best endorsement is the fact that I’ve given Mun’s book to dozens of troubled teens, and they’ve all loved it. Kids who read nothing, they’ll love this book. If you have a ‘non-reader’ on your list, a teenager, a 20-something male, etc., that person will love thisbook.
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Since this memoir launched on April 1st I’ve been pushing it on people, and I love to hear back about how much they enjoy it. During my own book events to promote my novel Damned I forced audience members to compete for copies of Chronology and the battles were fierce; in audiences of 800 young readers, people screamed their approval when I mentioned Lidia’s book. It’s already a new-born classic.”
Zazen by Vanessa Veselka. I can’t remember how this new novel came into my hands, but I’ve been reading and re-reading it all autumn. The narrator’s voice is the smartest, wry-est voice I’ve read in a decade. For young readers frustrated by the state of the world, this book will be a bitter political comedy. It will save the lives of college students who graduate with huge debts and no career prospects. Brilliant and haunting.
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm. In the same way that ‘Edie’ made sense of the 1960’s, Yarm’s oral history dissects the 90’s. Here’s a good long read for those of us who weren’t paying full attention or were too chemically self-indulgent to understand the plaid flannel world while it was actually happening. Again, here’s a book—yes, even a history book—for younger people who don’t like to read. The quick-cut way that statements are edited together will make it palatable to anyone with a short-ish attention span.