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05.05.09

Chuck Palahniuk's Book Club

The author of Fight Club says he had a good laugh while reading the former American Gladiator Nitro's memoir, and shares some of his favorite reads. His new book, Pygmy, will be published this week.

Honored Guest: Stories
by Joy Williams

"The best fiction uses animals to define truly humane behavior. No one does this better than Ms. Williams."

Don’t let the praise of highbrow critics scare you away from this book. We’re so much more likely to feel sympathy for an animal than another person, thus the best fiction uses animals to define truly humane behavior. No one does this better than Ms. Williams.

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Knockemstiff. By Donald Ray Pollock. 224 pages. Doubleday and Anchor Reprint. $14. ()

Knockemstiff
by Donald Ray Pollock

"For the next 10 years, Pollock's work will be tough for any writer to beat."

Every decade, we get a stunning collection of dynamic, heartbreaking short stories. In the past, those collections came from Barry Hannah, Mark Richard, and Thom Jones. For the next 10 years, Pollock’s work will be tough for any writer to beat.

 

 

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Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor. By Brad Gooch. 464 pages. Little, Brown & Co. $30. ()

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
by Brad Gooch

"The life of this Southern Gothic belle makes the somber existence of Emily Dickinson look like a barrel full of monkeys."

Why do the lives of writers seem so… train-wrecky? Mary Flannery O’Connor is no exception, surviving the back-to-back snakepits of the Iowa Writers Workshop and the Yaddo colony only to find herself trapped at home with her strong-willed mother and crippling lupus. The life of this Southern Gothic belle makes the somber existence of Emily Dickinson look like a barrel full of monkeys.

 

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Gladiator: A True Story of 'Roids, Rage and Redemption. By Dan Clark aka Nitro. 256 pages. Scribner. $25. ()

Gladiator: A True Story of 'Roids, Rage and Redemption
by Dan Clark aka Nitro

"There's redemption, but not before a ton of laughs."

Mr. Clark formerly played the character “Nitro” on the television series American Gladiators, and if you read only one book on vacation this year, this has to be it. After a dark childhood, steroids launch the author into a new life as a national celebrity built from mountains of chemically enhanced muscle. The dream falls apart as he sprouts breasts he can’t conceal inside his skimpy Spandex costume, then suffers high colonics in order to pass mandatory drug tests. Of course, there’s redemption, but not before a ton of laughs.

Plus: Check out Book Beast, for more news on hot titles and authors and excerpts from the latest books.

Chuck Palahniuk’s previous novels are the bestselling Rant, Haunted, Lullaby, Diary, Choke—which was made into a 2008 film by director Clark Gregg, starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston—Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher. He is also the author of the nonfiction profile of Portland, Oregon, Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journeys series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction.