Palahniuk (Adjustment Day, 2018, etc.) offers a comradely handbook on writing.
After enduring a travesty of a writing workshop, the author resolved to produce a tough-love manual on fiction writing. Palahniuk’s own work had benefited immeasurably from a different workshop conducted by Tom Spanbauer, whom he credits lavishly. A journalist by training, Palahniuk is known for a minimalist, conversational writing style and transgressive fiction featuring marginalized characters, but the strategies collected here can benefit any student of writing. Ranging from the nuts-and-bolts mechanics to the community of readers, his advice is highly detailed and practical, if occasionally tinged with romantic notions that belie his literary reputation for nihilism. And it's more than merely the tricks of the trade. Not surprising for a writer whose novel Fight Club was adapted for a successful film, Palahniuk illustrates many of his points using movie references and metaphors, sometimes to excess. He reveals possibilities that are not merely off the beaten track in publishing, but which possess a portion of originality. Many writers have pioneered the use of fictional techniques in writing nonfiction, but the author often reverses the process, to powerful effect. This is also a scrapbook of his writing life, brimming with personal anecdotes instructive, amusing, or bizarre. As in his stories, Palahniuk writes for the outsider in all of us, and he wants our wellsprings of story ideas to come from as deep a pool as his own. He closes with brief recommended fiction and nonfiction reading lists and a useful guide to troubleshooting. Palahniuk is a savvy teacher, though one's acceptance of the complete body of his guidelines may hinge on the appeal of his own fiction, his minimalist bent, or his insistence that writing also might be a form of exorcism: resolving intractable personal issues through fiction. The author confides one key dictum: Do not write to be liked but to be remembered.
Constructive and accessible.