Chuck Palahniuk's newest creation is not a novel. It's a short story called 'Phoenix' that he wrote for the Kindle Single program on Amazon. And in a little over two weeks, it's already climbed into the #1 spot in these three categories:
- #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Singles > Fiction
- #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories
- #1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > Single Author
That's called a clean sweep, folks!
If you haven't read this amazong short story yet, I'd recommend going in blind. I can tell you that it's dark, funny, sad, smart and haunting. I honestly think it could be the best short story Chuck has ever written.
The story is only about 20 pages and costs 99 cents on Amazon.com. So rather than paste a description of the story here, just take twenty minutes and go read it now.
Note: This essay contains spoilers for the new Kindle Single, 'Phoenix' by Chuck Palahniuk. If you haven't yet read this wonderful story, remedy that right now.
Read Part 1 of this essay series here.
by Chuck Palahniuk
On its most-basic level the story Phoenix is about a week in a family’s life. It begins on a Monday and ends on a Sunday – not unlike the story of Genesis. Or the movie Se7en.
It’s always easier to pace the present moment in a story. Days or actions occur in a sequence that suggests actual time passing. Space breaks allow you, the writer, to imply a jump forward or backward. That’s simple to do.
But how do you keep the past and the future always present in the current moment?
In earlier books I used Tom Spanbauer’s device of reoccurring choruses. Each represents an earlier event in the story, and by distilling those events into a few words the author can revisit the past in a flash. Consider where your mind goes when you read the word “Rosebud” or “Nevermore.” Each word contains an entire story. Like a reoccurring object in a plot, a repeated chorus accrues power each time it’s used, but it also keeps history present for the reader.
I’ve always used choruses to present the past and future, so in Phoenix I wanted to use symbols. At the risk of spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read it, here they are:
In Phoenix, the past is ashes, filth and shit. Rachel’s long-dead passion for Ted is represented by the dirty talk that leaks through the motel room wall. Those obscene noises never stop, but she’s gone deaf to them. Ted still hears them, like echoes; actually, he’s so attuned to them that they’re all he hears when she talks. Rachel occasionally hears them, but she tries to hide them by covering the phone. When they catch her by surprise, she’s enraged. She beats at them with her fist and shouts back at them. For her, they’re synonymous with conceiving a child with Ted, an act she deeply regrets. read more »
On February 12th, Chuck Palahniuk released a new short story exclusively through Amazon's Kindle Single program. Kindle Singles are eBooks of short and novella length. The story is called 'Phoenix,' and it's so damn good. You also must agree too because, at the time of writing this, the story is ranked #2 overall in the Kindle Single's category and has a 4 star rating.
Last week, Chuck decided to start a series of essays explaining the construction and backstory of this short story. You can read Essay 1 here. And he decided to let a small number of fans submit questions to him. So without further ado, here is the first batch of Questions & Answers:
(Chuck's answers are italicizied within)
From Lisa K:
I couldn't help feel that there were parallels between Rachel and Belinda Carlisle. Rachel and Belinda were both under the impression that they were the keepers to be indulged but in reality were the kept. They each were the vehicles, albeit unwillingly, of their own demises.
Were Rachel and April both suffering effects from toxicoplasmosis? Was Ted?
Do you remember the Shirley Jackson ghost story, "The Haunting of Hill House"? It's never clearly established whether Eleanor is crazy or actually menaced by ghosts. That unresolved dynamic gives the story a longer life. And that's why I never wanted to walk Ted or Rachel through an aside where they get tested for Toxo. The writer, and my friend, Chelsea Cain, lobbied for a Toxo testing scene, but it -- to my mind -- would've slowed the story and explained too much.
There's a gaping hole of how Ted came to be part of Rachel's life. Are they both loner brainiacs that fate brought together?
They met on a blind date. Rachel instantly recognized someone she could dominate. Any details beyond that would've slowed the forward momentum. We already start with a long, long flashback. A second flashback would've dampened the escalating tension. read more »
Update 3/1/13: The pre-order period has ended. The print order will now be made and shirts should begin shipping mid March. For those who didn't pre-order, keep an eye out, as we will have a small amount of overage in select sizes.
Our new T-shirt features Creedish death cult survivor Tender Branson, dressed to the nines in his evangelist, false prophet garb, strung up like a puppeted martyr over the image of a 747. Welcome to the wonderful and deranged world of one of Chuck Palahniuk's most celebrated novels, Survivor. The design is by Mondo artist Jay Shaw.
Here is a closer look at the shirt:
The inks on this shirt are water based, which means you won't feel like you're wearing a giant decal on your chest. The shirt color is 'New Silver,' which is almost like a soft grey. It's a unisex American Apparel 50/50 polycotton shirt. The fabric is very soft, very light and extremely comfortable.
This is a pre-order. It will run until Feb 28th. Then our design will be sent to the printer. Shirts will then begin shipping in mid March. So all in all, expect a 4-6 week wait for your shirt. We ship Priority mail.
Want A 'Survivor' Poster?
In a few weeks time, the artist Jay Shaw will be offering a poster of this design, seen in our gallery to the right or by clicking here. There will be a limit of only 100 of these posters and they will cost $20.39 (same flight number Tender takes!). So stay tuned and we will post a link on where to buy these posters once they become available. You might also try following Jay on Twitter to make sure you don't miss out!
Update: Since Friday, 'Phoenix' has shot up Amazon's sales rank from around #27,000 to #278. It's now #3 in the Kindle Single Fiction category. Thank you all for reading!
Update: You can also now purchase 'Phoenix' on Amazon CA and UK here.
In all the excitement last week- with the announcement of three new books in thee years- something just as cool got lost in the shuffle. Chuck Palahniuk has gone and written a Kindle Single!
If you don't know what Kindle Singles are, they're basically long form short stories and novellas in eBook format that Amazon publishes. They're perfect for an author like Chuck who, when he's not prolifically writing new novels, is experimenting with short stories which he reads on tour, publishes with magazines like Playboy and then (if we're lucky), later releases in collections. read more »
[Photo from the StarTribune]
Publishers Marketplace dropped the news earlier this month that Chuck Palahniuk sold the rights to his next two books, as well as signed a deal in the wake of the Haunted movie adaptation finally getting its greenlight. In other words, this is a very good time to be a fan of Chuck Palahniuk.
So I figured it was high time we do our own "State of the Union" here at The Cult with a summary of what's in the store for fans of Chuck.
Doomed (Oct 8, 2013): Chuck's next novel is a sequel to his 2012 novel Damned. Here's the description Chuck gave me:
The next novel will follow Madison back to earth as a ghost, doomed to haunting her parents for a year. In flashback we see her earlier childhood, including the death of the kitten whose dead body subsequently clogged the plumbing of the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel. That death is not Madison's doing, but another death is. Whether it's murder or self-defense, as a ten-year-old Madison kills someone horrifically, and that's the most-likely reason why she was damned in the first place. We also begin to recognize a centuries-long conspiracy engineered to train and test Maddy for her role as the savior of all spiritual beings.
Nope, nothing subtle, here.
Oh, I forgot to mention it but the world ends in this next book.
October 8th may seem way off, but the good folks at Amazon already have the book listed for pre-order.
Beautiful You (October, 2014): Next year we get Beautiful You. The Publishers Marketplace articled listed it as a book "focusing on the apocalyptic marketing possibilities of feminine pleasure." Then in a recent email, Chuck gave me his own personal description of it:
It's a comic/erotic thriller, a mash-up of 'mommy porn' and chick lit such as Sex and the City, and fantasy lit like Clan of the Cave Bear. Imagine if Ira Levin had a baby with Jean Auel.
It's safe to say I am flipping out over this book. Chuck has promised to reveal more on this one soon, so stay tuned. read more »
You may have heard the news this week that the financing for Haunted finally came through, and that we'll soon be getting our third Chuck Palahniuk film adaptation. But if you were being technical, Haunted could really be considered "three and a half." Last year, director Andy Mingo premiered his adaptation of Chuck's hysterical short story 'Romance.'
'Romance' was read during one of Chuck's recent tours (I got to hear it at the Invisible Monsters Remix LA event). And it appeared in the August 2011 issue of Playboy. You can even download it for free at Downpour.com here. But if you live in or near California, you can do better: you can go see it in a theater!
Update 2/11/13: Downpour informed me that at the time of this post, it has an issue with its checkout process that prohibited about 20 people from downloading the short story of 'Romance.' They've since fixed the issue and the free download is now working. As part of the apology they've also created an exclusive discount code for you all, which you can use to get 25% off downloads of the Chuck novels on our website. Use Code: chuck2813. Expires: 2/13/13.
On March 2nd at the Cinequest film festival in San Jose, there will be a special event that will start off with the California premiere of the short film at 130pm.
Afterwards, Chuck Palahniuk will be awarded with a Maverick Spirit Award followed by an onstage Q & A.
Chuck's going to be in good company receiving his Cinequest Maverick award. Also getting awards this year will be Harrison Ford and Salman Rushdie.
Here is how you can purchase tickets to the event:
Here's what the 'Films and Moving Pictures' blog had to say about 'Romance's' sold out Raindance screening in England last year:
‘Romance’ has laughs and genuine “Palahniuk” moments that make you squeal and shock you out of your seat... The film is like nothing seen before... Cinema experiences were made for moments like these.
For more information on how you can follow the short film, check out its official site at romancemovie.net and its official Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RomanceFilm. And of course, you should check out the film's trailer on YouTube!
European countries continue to impress with their approach to designing Chuck Palahniuk covers. Rather than taking a literal approach to the work, they tend towards the abstract. Their covers are more like modern pop culture art than spoon-fed designs. A few years ago I celebrated the Czech Republic's covers for their boldness...
Now Serbia deserves a place on that mantle. Check out their new cover for Rant, as well as their cover for Invisible Monsters:
For more pictures, check out their Facebook Page.
As you may know, we've had a long standing relationship with the good folks at Oregon's own St. Helen's Book Shop. As an affiliate to the site, we've sent traffic their way and in turn, they stood as the only book store in the country that had a direct partnership with Chuck Palahniuk, whereby he would come in and not only sign all of their stock, but also accept personal inscriptions on book orders made through the St. Helen's site.
Unfortunately, St. Helen's had to close up shop in early December, and so around that time they ran their last big promotion on Palahniuk titles (read Lori's letter about the closing on their front page). Many of you ordered books around this time, hoping to get them in time for Christmas. But recently, I've heard from a few customers who have still not received their inscribed book orders nor have been able to get in touch with the people running the site. I don't personally work for St. Helen's so I can only offer my regret at this matter. But in order to get some sort of status on the situation, I emailed Chuck today and quickly heard back with this update:
Lori, who ran the store, has had a terrible time getting certain books. The hardcover of Fight Club was going back to press around Christmas, and it's taken weeks to fill the back orders of book stores.
If people ask, Lori has promised to bring me the books next Tuesday. I'll spend a few days inscribing them, and they should ship out at the end of next week.
Lori and I are both sorry about this turn of events. The idea that these were most likely Christmas presents makes everything worse. Feel free to post the text of this letter. Lori's honorable, and I'll make sure everything works out.
So there you have it. Chuck is personally on the task. Be patient and you should have your book soon. Also, for those asking about who will fill the void now that St. Helen's is gone, I would recommend Powell's, AbeBooks and of course, eBay. These are all sites where you can find signed Chuck Palahniuk books. For personal inscriptions, you'll just have to see Chuck during his next tour!