In his new book of essays, Eating the Dinosaur, pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman posits that “as a species we have never been less human than we are right now.” Part of the reason why this has happened, he says, is that our growing consumption of media, movies, and entertainment has made it so that “we can’t really differentiate between real and unreal images.” He concludes that we thus, “no longer have freedom to think whatever we want.” For instance, the words, “basketball game,” instantly trigger a mental image of the NBA before (rather than?) a memory of a real experience. The Klosterman twist is that while “reading about Animal Collective on the Internet has replaced being alive,” he’s generally okay with this cultural and social development. I should add that he admits that the Unabomber’s Manifesto and its author had several really good and scarily prescient points.
In his second interview with /Film, many of Eating the Dinosaur‘s ideas are discussed within the context of modern television series like Mad Men and 30 Rock. We also discuss the significance of the odd documentary-style used on The Office and now Modern Family, and why he believes pop-culture writing/blogging on the internet unfortunately has become “an institutional voice” that rivals academia. Is this where I type, “Hopefully the next trailer is better?” For our first interview round with Chuck Klosterman, click here. For Klosterman’s updates on film adaptations of his books Fargo Rock City and Killing Yourself to Live, click here.
Hunter Stephenson: What’s your biggest problem with 30 Rock?
Chuck Klosterman: [pause] Does it seem like I have one?
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As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Chuck Palahniuk, best known as the author of Fight Club. I’ve attended, god knows how many of his public events over the years, and got the chance to sit down with Palahniuk in Park City Utah at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival to talk about the big screen adaptation of his novel Choke. The photo above was taken at the Choke premiere, the night before this interview. Palahniuk leaned his head across mine right before the flash. “Congratulations, now you have syphilis.” he added. Fans of the author will surely recognize his patented sense of humor.
Palahniuk chats with me about the big screen adaptation of Choke, Heath Ledger – who had died hours earlier and had been at one time attached to the project, the progress of future big screen adaptions including Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Diary and Lullaby, some of the stuff he loved from the film, an idea he wish they had used, and his upcoming book Snuff. Enjoy!
Peter Sciretta: I loved the movie, could you talk a little bit about the process of getting it made. I know it was a really long strugle.
Chuck Palahniuk: Yeah. They had the option for a long time. I talked to Gregg Clark on and off about what he might put into the screenplay, what he might cut. And having a screenplay is like having another draft. So all the sort of spirit of the stairway things that you wanted to put in, but you didn’t think of them until a month after the manuscript went to press…
Peter: Well you said that about the ending of Fight Club, didn’t you?
Palahniuk: You know, I had the back and fourth but the ending was entirely David’s. But I knew that David had to bring up the romance at the end so I could understand why he did. In the same way I can remember why Clark left the stone house stoning scene out. Because there is only so much that can go in a movie before it becomes overload.
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Two days ago I posted the first production photo from Choke, which premieres January at Sundance. But my posting was more of a rant about one of author Chuck Palahniuk’s other novels. Everyone knows about Fight Club (despite the first rule…), and everyone has seen David Fincher’s film adaptation, but what you probably don’t know is that Palahniuk wrote a book called Survivor that is arguably better than Fight Club.
Survivor was being fast tracked for the big screen, but September 11th happened, and plot similarities put the project in development hell (you can read the history behind the failed film adaptation here). Online petitions were signed, Fox listened, and Chuck even announced at book signings that development work on the film had begun again. But not long after, it was reported that the project had fell back into development heck.
I’m writing to you today my friends to report some great news. I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence is back on the project.
“I’m working on the book Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk that I’m working on with a friend,” Lawrence said this weekend at the I Am Legend junket. “It’s a great book. I love that book. So we’ve been working on that.”
So it appears the project is not dead after all. Francis Lawrence has a couple other projects in development:
- “Snow and the Seven” a 19th century re-telling of Snow White
- A pilot for NBC called “Kings”, David and Goliath in modern day New York City
But it sounds like he is actively working on an adaptation of Palahniuk’s book, and that makes me ecstatic.
Here is the plot description from the Book’s cover:
From the author of the cult sensation Fight Club (now a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter) comes Survivor.
“A turbo-charged, deliciously manic satire of contemporary American life.” –Newsday
“The only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage,” according to the “been there, done that” wisdom of Tender Branson, last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult. At the opening of Chuck Palahniuk’s hilariously unnerving second novel, Tender is cruising on autopilot, 39,000 feet up, dictating the whole of his life story into Flight 2039’s “black box” in the final moments before crashing into the vast Australian outback.
Not since Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night has there been as dark and telling a satire on the wages of fame and the bedrock lunacy of the modern world. Wickedly incisive and mesmerizing, Survivor is Chuck Palahniuk at his deadpan peak.
“Mordant…one’s sympathy for the improbable, doomed hero is fully engaged.” –The New Yorker
“A wild amphetamine ride through the vagaries of fame and the nature of belief.”–The San Francisco Chronicle
“Convoluted, maniacally comic, partaking deeply of the America that streams towrd us in the dead of night from the cable channels–that place of outrageous expectation, slavish idolatry, fanatic consumerism, and mind-stopping banality.” –Sven Birkerts, Esquire