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Palahniuk, Chuck (b. 1962)  
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Chuck Palahniuk is known for a series of popular and provocative novels, such as Fight Club, Survivor, Choke, and Lullaby, characterized by outlandish plot developments, unsparing anatomical detail, ribald humor, and graphic violence, told in a blunt, but spirited, prose style.

Palahniuk's books, as Sean O'Hagan notes in the Observer, "tend to be extreme, both in their subject matter and in their telling." Similarly, the Library Journal declares, "Palahniuk has become a master of depicting the dark and depraved underbelly of our society through the voices of mordantly existential protagonists."

Meanwhile, Stephen Holden of the New York Times argues that "Opinion is still divided as to whether his oeuvre amounts to a tenacious attempt at reinventing the Gothic tradition for the 21st century, or a sustained, career-long attempt to put you off your lunch."

In an interview, Palahniuk himself says that "Every time I write something, I think, this is the most offensive thing I will ever write. But no. I always surprise myself."

He has also, however, called his fiction "contemporary romances," and asserts that his goal is not necessarily to shock or upset his readers. As Palahniuk explains, "I'm always trying to reach a transcendent point, a romantic point, but reach it in a really unconventional way, a really profane way. To get to that romantic, touching, heartbreaking place, but through a lot of acts of profanity."

Since the 1996 publication of his debut novel, Fight Club, which was later adapted into a critically contentious cult film by David Fincher, Palahniuk has earned a fanatically loyal readership.

Palahniuk believes that his popularity is based, in part, on the fact that he tends to write novels "for the kind of people who don't normally read novels."

"I try to tell a story," he explains, "the way someone would tell you a story in a bar, with the same kind of timing and pacing. . . . That sense of immediacy is more real to me than a lot of writerly, literary-type crafted stories."

His public readings, which frequently draw capacity crowds, have become notorious in the publishing world. His audiences, comprised mainly of young men, often come dressed as one of his characters, especially Tyler Durden, memorably portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film version of Fight Club.

During readings, Palahniuk regularly tosses story-related objects into the crowds, such as artificial limbs, blow-up sex dolls, or plastic vomit. He also often delights in reading from his more visceral and physically explicit stories; audience members have been reported to faint at such events.

Although Palahniuk is a gay man who has been out "for a million years," as he explained in a 2009 Advocate interview, he has nonetheless frequently courted controversy in the media over his sexuality.

Early in his writing career, several newspaper articles stated that Palahniuk had a "wife," although he had in fact been in a long-term relationship with a male partner. Palahniuk took no action to correct the inaccurate claims.

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Chuck Palahniuk in 2004.
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