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Chuck Palahniuk Prefers His Teenagers Drunk and Disrobed

Chuck Palahniuk spreads the good word.Courtesy of Scholastic Inc.

We wouldn’t exactly think of Chuck Palahniuk, sick genius behind such graphic cult hits as Fight Club and Rant (titled after the sound a child makes when vomiting), as the ideal role model for bright-eyed 16- and 17-year-old would-be writers. This past Friday, he lived up to our perverse expectations when he took the stage as a keynote speaker at the 2007 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which are given out each year to talented high-school students across the country. “It is my deepest wish that I could get you really drunk … and take off all your clothing,” he announced in front of dozens of well-meaning parents, sponsors, and teachers, who sat twittering nervously in their plush Carnegie Hall seats.

We have to give him credit, though: Palahniuk is nothing if not unfailingly honest, and certainly never one to censor himself for any audience. “I would like you to know — the misery of the job is as much a part of the job as any success … Eventually you will find yourself cold and hurting, with a lot of people laughing at you.” We wouldn’t exactly call that rosy inspiration, but it’s certainly more apt — not to mention funny — than any advice we ever got in high school. —Xiyin Tang