Angry? Disillusioned? Age 35 or under? Chances are pretty good you’ve broken Rules One and Two of Fight Club—by talking about it nonstop with anyone who’ll listen. The 1999 film adaptation of Fight Club, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, fostered an entire generation of pranksters, pugilists and soap makers eager to fuck up American consumerist society. The film became an instant classic and a cornerstone of contemporary pop culture. It also guaranteed its author, novelist Chuck Palahniuk, a cult following for years thereafter.
Since Palahniuk’s literary debut with Fight Club in 1996, the incendiary, divisive author continues to provoke a wide range of reactions from his readers. During his 2005 book tour for the short story collection Haunted, over 70 people worldwide fainted in response to readings of Palahniuk’s extreme masturbation tale, “Guts.” A prolific provocateur, Palahniuk has cranked out works of fiction and nonfiction alike, including Choke (adapted into a 2008 film), Invisible Monsters and Stranger than Fiction: True Stories, as well as Damned and Doomed, two in a series about a dead, smart-alecky teenage girl traveling through Hell and Purgatory. A film version of his novel Snuff was also recently announced.
His newest novel Beautiful You (Doubleday; hardcover; $25.95) is described as a tale of “the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of female pleasure.” In it, a billionaire lothario named C. Linus Maxwell (aka "Climax-Well”) transforms young Penny into his test subject for a line of sex toys, thrilling her with a nonstop barrage of orgasmic thrills. But he’s not just interested in her carnal desires; his diabolical plan is to enable his own world domination by getting women into bedrooms and off the streets.
Chuck Palahniuk discusses Beautiful You and much more at 7pm on Monday, Oct. 27, in UNM Student Union Ballrooms B and C. The event is hosted by Bookworks and the Creative Writing Program of the UNM English Department. For $25.95, attendees get a hardcover copy of the book and single admission; add-on ticket (limit one) is $5. To purchase tickets, visit bkwrks.com/chuck-palahniuk. For more deets, call Bookworks at 344-8139. (M. Brianna Stallings)
“All of us, believers and skeptics alike, love a good story,” writes investigator Benjamin Radford in Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment (University of New Mexico Press; paperback; $24.95). It sums up this book’s mindset perfectly. Known as a debunker of myths, Radford certainly lives up to his reputation in this volume as he skewers over a dozen of your favorite nuevomexicano legends with carefully researched and extensively documented facts. He’s not out to burst anyone’s bubble though. Despite what your abuela might’ve told you, La Llorona isn’t real—but what is real is the cross-cultural presence and power of the weeping woman story, and Radford explains its rich history in fascinating detail. He’s got the goods on crystal skulls, the miraculous spiral staircase at Loretto Chapel, the KiMo ghost and tons more. For the next Radford sighting, head to Barnes & Noble Coronado (6600 Menaul NE) on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1pm, where he’ll happily engage in some rousing discussion with lovers of New Mexico lore, whether they believe or question. (Lisa Barrow)
A young Tom Wolfe once told an even younger Gail Sheehy that the newspaper biz “is like the main Tijuana bullring ... you have to be brave.” And brave she was. Sheehy was breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings before that was considered a good thing. Emerging from what she calls “the estrogen zone” of women’s journalism in the 1960s, Sheehy blazed a trail into the all-male world of serious feature articles. She wrote pieces on the gritty world of prostitution, covered Northern Ireland during Bloody Sunday, interviewed Hillary Clinton, Robert Kennedy, Egyptian ex-president Anwar Sadat, etc. Her 1976 work Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life charted the life stages we all go through and was named one of the 10 most influential books of our time by a Library of Congress survey. She heads to the Albuquerque JCC (5520 Wyoming NE) on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 3pm to discuss her new memoir Daring: My Passages(William Morrow; hardcover; $29.99). Tickets are $10 in advance at jccabq.org, $15 at the door. Call 348-4500 for more info. (Randyn Charles Bartholomew)
Fans of all-things-macabre need to check out Ray John de Aragón's newest local history book, The New Mexico Book of the Undead: Goblin & Ghoul Folklore (History Press, paperback, $16.99). The Land of Enchantment offers its own spin on some global horror tropes, so local variants of spook stories comprise the core of the book. For example, “La Guajona” is the vampire witch hunting along the road from Taos, “Santa Companía” drafts a foolish cemetery-visiting boy into service of the dead, and “María Sangre Fría” is a chilling saga reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Aragón goes beyond retelling to provide extensive historical context, greatly enriching this slim volume with linguistic, social and geographic details. If you want a signed copy, complete with reading by the author and Q&A session, pop into Page One Books (5850 Eubank NE) at 6:30pm Tuesday, Oct. 28. The event is free and open to the public. Call 294-2026 for info. If you miss him at Page One, he’ll also be at Bookworks on Thursday, Oct. 30. (Holly von Winckel)