C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

My Top Three (Living) Writing Heroes. Who are Yours?

 1. William Goldman: Author of Adventures in the Screen Trade and The Princess Bride. He wrote All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and many others. He also wrote my favorite novel, The Color of Light. What sets him apart is his ability to twist a plot. Just when you think you know what will happen next is when he suckerpunches you with a surprise.

2. Kevin Smith: Director, raconteur, actor, comic book writer, Smodcaster. He wrote and directed Clerks starting with nothing at all. That alone makes him a DIY hero, but there’s more to this cat than 1992. He’s funny and smart, but it’s his facility with dialogue that gets him on my list. If it’s got quotes around it, he writes the shit out of it. Also, we could all learn something from his dedication to his fans and his horizons. He started a podcast, took it on the road and now has a regular home for his shows (Smodcastle.) He’s made a lot out of a little with merchandising and owns two comic book stores to boot. The dude knows how to work a keyboard and a fan base. He is loved.

3. Chuck Pahlaniuk: This author of Fight Club started late (early 30s) but is prolific. He has already equalled the number of books Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his lifetime. His fan base is The Cult and he spread a cultural phenomenon once Fight Club hit the public consciousness. He’s on this list because I share his dark sensibility, but my respect for his work goes deeper than that. He’s a very successful author who is willing to push his envelope with experimental fiction. You either love or hate Pygmy, in which the entire text is related through the broken english of a terrorist infiltrating America. Rant is a weird biography. Snuff details the weirdness of a porn shoot in gruesome detail. He’s not trying to do the same book over and over (Yes, I’m looking at you Bret Easton Ellis.) Is it horror or is it funny? The answer depends on the reader.

That’s the first three who came to mind. These three might strike you as strange choices. For instance, where’s Hemingway? Lists like this usually point to dead writers. It’s what I call “generational inertia.” Our english teachers and professors are still talking about a lot of dead writers because that’s who their english teachers and professors talked about.  Stephen King won’t be on anybody’s else’s immortality list for years yet (such an idea was sacrilege when I was in university and is merely implausible now.) Yes, I love a lot of dead writers, but they are easily found on lots of other lists.

So the question today is:

Who are the living writers you idolize?

Filed under: Books, Writers, , , ,

cHUCK pAHLANIUK: Relax!

A lot of authors come and go or are trapped in the midlist and never break out, soon to be dumped by their publishers and agents after having their hopes briefly elevated. Others soar briefly, but the brand doesn’t catch on and now industry insiders wink at each other, telling each other the has-been was a flavor of the month. (These same editors, agents and publishers were certain they’d discovered the next Philip Roth not long before.)

Jay McInerney, for instance, wrote three really good books I loved: Ransom, Story of My Life and Bright Lights, Big City (which was made into a very good movie starring Michael J. Fox.) I tried to read the author’s next work but I felt he was suddenly trying to write as if he was an English author from a previous century. His solid stuff exhibited a sharp post-modernist wit but somewhere between his experimental popular fiction and what he wrote afterward, he wandered off. He’s still a successful guy and writes about wine and has made it big in the magazine world. However, he’s unknown to a new generation of readers and so, has become a bit of a footnote. In the 80s, you had to read him. Now? Really optional. He’s got a new book out, so maybe he’s working on a comeback.

Which brings us to: In a recent interview Chuck Pahlaniuk said he still didn’t feel like a success. (Wha–?)

I have proof he is a great success. Of course he wrote Fight Club (and a great movie was made of the book which is so close to the book they lifted almost all the dialogue.) Choke was made into a movie. He’s written quite a few books now actually: Lullaby (liked it), Diary (loved it), Survivor (liked it), Rant (not for me), Snuff (okay), Haunted (okay) Invisible Monsters (not for me) and Stranger the Fiction (really solid and readable.) He could stop there and have about as much output in numbers of books as Kurt Vonnegut had. Nothing to sneeze at.

BUT HERE’S THE PROOF PAHLANIUK IS A SUCCESS:

In a review of  Rant (which was laudatory, long and detailed) not once did the reviewer even mention Fight Club!

Chuck. You’ve made it into the pantheon.

Congratulations.

Filed under: book reviews, Books, Writers, , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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