Chuck Palahniuk Prefers His Teenagers Drunk and Disrobed

Chuck Palahniuk spreads the good word. Photo: 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