Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different

Grand Central. Jan. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781538717950. $27. LIT
Palahniuk (Adjustment Day) mines our free-floating anxiety, horror of the ever-accelerating Real, and returns with literary artifacts. One of these, the short story “Guts,” has caused a few live-reading attendees to faint. Beyond such dramatic (but factual) accounts, this volume stands apart from similar writing-life books via Palahniuk’s integral fidelity: no hand-holding allowed. Psychology tells us that shock—among other emotions—imprints on memory, for good or ill. But Palahniuk, maintaining forensic-strength attention, is no mere outrage-monger. The chapter “Establishing Your Authority” exemplifies how anyone feeling ripped off by predatory capitalism can find in his work calls for critical thinking and rebellion against “crisis culture.” As a former assembly-line worker writing during “free” moments, the author learned that self-discipline is crucial, without which talent and craft are useless. “It’s possible no one is as lonely as writers,” says Palahniuk. “[A]nd reading is a lonely pastime.” Like the author’s fictive characters and their frequently violent struggles, these truisms infer that a meaningful life can be found only by really listening, observing, and cultivating self-reliance as antidotes against the world’s chaos. Embracing the wildness of being.
VERDICT Palahniuk readers--and writers at any career level--likely will devour this vivid and instructive behind-the-scenes tour.
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