This week had its share of good comics, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend some time talking about the bloodiest garden friendly book to debut this week. Author of such books as Fight Club and Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk, has a new novella/coloring book called Legacy: An Off-Color Novella For You To Color. Readers get to meet Vincent, think Gordon Gekko without any of the ambition. A “douche bag” driven by the quest for wealth and material who’s shunned the intangibles that make people who they are, family and past. When an unexpected inheritance grants Vincent the opportunity for eternal life, he’ll find there are no shortcuts in the mind of Chuck Palahniuk. Legacy blends the heartwarming tale of discovering family with the horrors of discovering family all guided by the eye of artists (Cover)Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy: Darkness Calls), with interiors by Steve Morris (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), and Mike Norton (Battlepug).
I got a chance to exchange some words about this book with Chuck and it’s dawned on me that I’ve had more meaningful exchanges with him than I have had with friends, family, or even people I’ve been in a relationship with. To be quite honest, it’s fine. It’s never been lost on me that I’m getting to converse with one of the most introspective and unique voices of his generation. Enjoy.
CHUCK PALAHNIUK: A novella is Kryptonite to traditional publishing. And ‘Legacy’ is one with elements of fantasy, sex, torture and naughty language. On top of all its faults, it includes the emotional journey of a son seeking the father he’d never known. Crippled by all these red flags, the book needed the work of some great artists to put it over.
CB: In a way, I get it. After I’d read the book it was hard to picture these words without illustration. You’ve written several novels and published tons of short story fiction in various books or magazines. Was
You’ve written several novels and published tons of short story fiction in various books or magazines. Was Legacy your first attempt at a novella?
PALAHNIUK: In my collection of stories “Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread” — which was voted the most banned book in the United States last year! — I included a novella called “Inclinations.” It’s about adolescent boys who fake being gay so they will be sent to Christian reeducation camps for treatments they hope will include sex with prostitutes, anabolic steroids and lessons in the Kama Sutra. Why it was banned by many books associations — including the Texas Prison System, which bans all of my books, I even met with their librarian — go figure.
CB: I want that to be a movie that way no prison would ban it. Lots of pivotal authors, better known for their long-form novels, such as Tolstoy and Edith Wharton have written poignant novella-length works, but I haven’t read too many novellas, myself. What, if any, recommendations do you have for those unfamiliar with works of this length?
Lots of pivotal authors, better known for their long-form novels, such as Tolstoy and Edith Wharton have written poignant novella-length works, but I haven’t read too many novellas, myself. What, if any, recommendations do you have for those unfamiliar with works of this length?
PALAHNIUK: Think of the best movie adaptations and chances are good they began as novellas. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Shawshank Redemption” in particular. Even Ira Levin’s “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Stepford Wives” came from books which were technically novellas, but were printed in a larger typeface so they could be sold as novels. Novellas = good movies.
CB: This story is narrated in a vernacular that’s raw and to the point calling out people as douche bags. When writing Legacy, was that voice similar, if not identical, to Tyler Durden or Sebastian for you?
PALAHNIUK: One summer I had a class filled with student writers who used the term “Douche” constantly. I’ve been dying to play with the term for years. Neither Tyler nor the narrator in “Fight Club” would use it because their language had to comply with the non-pejorative language called for in the style of Minimalism. They could describe things, but they could not judge them.
CB: True and Vincent is the polar opposite of a minimalist. In this book, Vincent is driven by chasing ordinary desires like chasing wealth while Baccarat DeVille is driven by supernatural desires and sounds like a sexy card game played on riverboat casinos. What was the inspiration for her name and backstory?
PALAHNIUK: People tell me that exotic dancers almost always choose stage names comprised of the names of luxury goods. Thus “Lexus Diamond” or “Cristal Porsche” making themselves objects, but objects of value and high status. Maybe Baccarat was inspired by the character of “Miriam Blaylock” in the film “The Hunger.” Maybe not. I love that film, and many film gurus say it set the tone for all of David Fincher’s videos and films. Who knows?
CB: The Hunger has my favorite David Bowie performance. Everyone gets dick hard over Labyrinth or even The Prestige but for me it was him being John. But that’s neither here nor there.
In the Bait introduction, you’d talked about the memories coloring books evoke for you. Do you feel as though it’s still possible for kids this day in age to have that paper and crayon experience or are we too far gone in the digital age?
PALAHNIUK: Kids will always love possessions. Look at the room of any kid, and it’s crammed. They need stuff to keep them grounded. It’s like a nest, a physical setting that ebooks can’t provide. Coloring books and crayons will always have a place in that nest. Plus, they’ll always want gifts, and a physical something gives parents and grandparents something to wrap.
CB: Plus it lets something be left behind should the sun explode or Godzilla finally come out of the seas. But the leaving behind is something that I often ponder. I’ve always looked at literature and comics as artifacts. If they come from a different land or time period they tell you about a world you may ever only get to romanticize about. Using Legacy in that sense, if someone were to unearth a copy of this book 100 years from now what do you believe it would tell that person about the world?