Childhood & Early Life
He was born on February 21, 1962, in Pasco, Washington to Fred Palahniuk and Carol Adele. He is a descendant of Russian, French and Ukrainian ancestry.
His early childhood was spent in Washington in a mobile home in Burbank. His parents separated when he was 14 and thereafter they divorced leaving Chuck and his siblings in the care of Carol’s parents. The children moved to Eastern Washington to stay at the cattle ranch of their maternal grandparents.
He attended the ‘School of Journalism’ at the ‘University of Oregon’, from where he completed his graduation in 1986. While studying in college, he interned at the ‘KLCC’ radio station, a member of the ‘National Public Radio’, at its Eugene office.
After college, he relocated to Portland, Oregon where he had a short stint as a journalist with ‘Oregonian’, a local newspaper. He, however, left journalism in 1988 and totally switched from his field to work as a diesel mechanic with ‘Freightliner’, a job that he would hold till his career as a novelist took off. He made a comeback in journalism only after making a mark as an acclaimed novelist.
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He attended workshops of Tom Spanbauer and was inspired by Spanbauer’s minimalistic style of writing and began penning down his own imaginations. While he worked with ‘Freightliner’, he utilised his spare time in writing.
After the publishers refused to publish his novel ‘Invisible Monsters’, he started working on ‘Fight Club’, that went on to become his most notable novel.
Initially ‘Fight Club’ was published as a short story and was included in ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, a compilation published in 1995. Later he developed it into a full-fledged novel, where the short story was included in the 6th chapter, and was published in 1996. Three more editions were published in 1999, 2004 and 2005.
‘Fight Club’ earned him much deserved attention from the ‘20th Century Fox’, following which Edward Hibbert, a literary agent and actor signed him. The novel was adapted into a 1999 film with the same name, directed by David Fincher and starred by Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. The film deal was initiated and executed by Hibbert.
Though in the first weekend of its release, the film charted at number one at the US box office, on the whole it could not garner much success. In 1999 he came out with two more novels, ‘Invisible Monsters’ (revised form) and ‘Survivor.
In 2001 he published his next novel, ‘Choke’, which was later adapted into a film of the same name. It was directed by Clark Greg and starred Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald and Sam Rockwell. It was premiered at the ‘Sundance Film Festival’ on January 14, 2008.
‘Choke’ was followed by two other novels, ‘Lullaby’ (2002) and ‘Diary’ (2003). David Fincher took interest in adapting his novel ‘Diary’ into a miniseries to be featured in ‘HBO’.
Since ‘Lullaby’, his novels have reflected more satirical and horror centric stories whereas his earlier novels contained characters that were mostly sidelined by society and who displayed self-destructive aggression.
During his 2003 promotional tour for ‘Diary’, he narrated ‘Guts’, a thrilling short story to his listeners. He included the story in his book ‘Haunted’. The story had a part that included accidents involving masturbation. He told the listeners to take a deep breath and that ‘this story should last about as long as you can hold your breath’. Reportedly 40 listeners fainted after holding breath.
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‘Guts’ was published in March 2004 by ‘Playboy’ magazine. The narration of ‘Guts’ and fainting incidents due to holding of breath continued in his promotional tour of ‘Stranger than Fiction: True Stories’ in 2004, that of ‘Haunted’ in 2005’ among others, taking up the number of fainters to around 73. The last such incident happened in Canada in British Columbia’s Victoria on May 28, 2007.
During his 2005 promotional tour for ‘Haunted’ in Miami, he mentioned his plan to write a science fiction trilogy and that his next novel ‘Rant’ will be the first one of the three.
He participated for a week at the ‘Clarion West Writers Workshop’ in 2008, guiding students regarding theory of fiction and his writing procedures.
Some of his other fictions are ‘Snuff’ (2008), ‘Pygmy’ (2009), ‘Damned (2011), ‘Beautiful You’ (2014) and ‘Make Something Up’ (2015).
His short fictional works ‘Knock, Knock’ (2010), ‘Romance’ (2011), ‘Cannibal’ (2013) and ‘Zombie’ (2013) were published in Playboy. Some of his other published and unpublished short fictions are ‘Negative Reinforcement’ (1990), ‘Cold Calling’ (2007), ‘Love Nest’ (2007) and ‘Phoenix’ (2013).
His non-fictional works are ‘Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon’ (2003), ‘Stranger than Fiction: True Stories’ (2004) and ‘You Do Not Talk About Fight Club: I Am Jack's Completely Unauthorized Essay Collection’ (2008).
On September 11, 2014, it was announced that his novel ‘Rant’ would be adapted into a film to be directed by Pamela Romanowsky and would star James Franco.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is a regular member of the rebellious ‘Cacophony Society’, reflection of which finds place in both his fictions and non-fictions including his most remarkable novel ‘Fight Club’.
Palahniuk’s father and his father’s girlfriend Donna Fontaine were murdered by her ex-boyfriend Dale Shackleford in May 1999. Palahniuk helped in determining Shackleford’s death sentence.
He is gay and lives in Vancouver, Washington, with his partner of over twenty years, whom he met during his ‘Freightliner’ days.