The Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn was bustling with activity as best-selling author Chuck Palahniuk visited to promote “Adjustment Day,” his first novel in four years.
The Washington state native, who is perhaps best-known for the 1996 novel “Fight Club,” which became a film three years later with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton — made a stop in the borough to sign copies of his latest, which riffs on the themes of “Fight Club.” In line with his earlier novels — which include “Choke” (2001), “Tell All” (2010) and “Beautiful You” (2014) — Palahniuk’s latest work is a satirical creation with political overtones.
The inspiration for “Adjustment Day” was a trip that he took to Madrid some six years ago. During his stay, Palahniuk began to see the United States from a European viewpoint — one that finds America at times outlandish. Palahniuk has said that “Adjustment Day” is one of his boldest novels and, like much of his work, it is not for the faint of heart. In “Fight Club” — which questions machismo even as it indulges its brutality — Palahniuk’s protagonist turns to the violent underground world of the title setting to explore what it means to be a man. “Adjustment Day” ups the ante as men from around the country aggressively organize, plan and manipulate others as they prepare to become leaders of a new nation. (Sounds prescient, doesn’t it?)
“Fight Club” fans will recall that the first (and second) rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. So we won’t spoil the experience for the reader by adding anything else.
Except to say that Palahniuk has always been a grim jokester. That gallows humor has, however, helped contribute to his cult following over the years.
Even best-selling authors have writer’s block, and Palahniuk suggests listening to combat it. (Perhaps that’s why the cover of “Adjustment Day” features cartoonish blue, green and purple ears against a blinding yellow background.)
“If I ever get stuck, I go out and spend time with people and, a lot of times, I might tell them if I have a general premise. I’ll say, ‘I’m working on a story about blank,”’ he says. “And the way to test a good story is if people instantly engage with it and they start to sort of fill out the idea with examples from their own lives.”
When he wrote “Fight Club,” Palahniuk attended a lot of parties, he says. At these parties he would pay attention to minute details, whether it was a subtle joke exchanged between friends or an unusual dress of someone attending. He mentally shelved this information for references later expressed in “Fight Club.”
It was a win-win, he jokes, because he was able to write while still having a good time.
Besides “Adjustment Day,” Palahniuk has also published “Fight Club 2,” a graphic novel. For more, visit chuckpalahniuk.net. For more about Greenlight Bookstore, visit greenlightbookstore.com.