Fat Cats get fatter and America continues to fail the vast majority. Angry young men simmer, with nothing to lose. Talbott Reynolds appears on TV promising a new system built truly by the people. Copies of his little blue and black manifesto proliferate quickly underground through the U.S., speaking of an “Adjustment Day” a reckoning that will bring power to the powerless.
The premise of Chuck Palahniuk‘s new novel ‘Adjustment Day’ is just as irreverent, relevant and revilatory about the disaffected male pysche today as ‘Fight Club’ was in the ‘90’s. Only now, it’s no secret, people know (or should have expected) Adjustment Day and they didn’t see it coming. The wheels come off the bus in the most spectacularly “Palahniukian”(trademark) of ways!
This novel blew my mind!
If you want to read it clean with no spoilers you might want to pick up a copy before you dig in to my exclusive interview with Author Chuck Palahniuk below.
However, this is one of the greatest interviews I’ve ever had (did I say this is Chuck Palahniuk?) It’s just as cool as you’d think it be.
Alex Yarde (AY): I heard you speak about writing courses you took long ago (I believe it was an audiobook intro about real stories of interesting professions like submariners and the like) and how solitary and insular the process of writing a novel can be. What was your process like for writing Adjustment Day?
Chuck Palahniuk (CP): To be honest, I sought out every alt-everything public figure who’d talk to me. Racial separatists, black and white. I gathered together everyone’s militant fantasies about having his own nation based on identity politics. Gay and straight. White and black. How would a civil war best be fought, and what would be the result? I wondered about how Ayn Rand would’ve written Gone with the Wind, and cribbed the wonderful chronicle format of The Grapes of Wrath and The Martian Chronicles. Finally, I got to invent the fun part: What could go wrong?
AY – You recently finished the book tour, how was Adjustment Day received?
CP: To judge from my level of exhaustion, it’s been a success. The events sold out. But a few week’s sales don’t demonstrate much. Fight Club sold fewer than a thousand copies its first year, and I book toured to empty stores. In 1996 my biggest turn out was six people — all my friends — in Seattle. Only time will tell.
AY – What was the most memorable question you got on the tour?
CP: This is crushing. And I wish it were a one-time question, but many people have asked me to inscribe books for their young male loved ones who’ve recently died of opiate overdoses. So the book can be buried in the casket or kept as part of a memorial. Every time I’m asked, it breaks my heart. Am I the only one noticing how so many young men are casualties in a kind-of invisible war?
AY- What if anything surprised you about how fans (or any detractors) felt about your latest novel?
CP: Not too surprised. First, I never read reviews. Good or bad, they just mess with my head. Second, most of the culture has already decided to like or dislike whatever I produce. It’s a sure bet the Daily Beast or the Huffington Post is going to hate every word I put down. Well, as the Southerners say, God bless their hearts. Whether anyone loves or hates my writing, I still need to go back and discover my own joy in the task.
AY- You might be sick of the comparisons to Fight Club but as I read it, I kept thinking this was if Tyler leveraged his manifesto on social media and blasted listicle articles all over. A 4Chan Fight Club, franchised from coast to coast. With all of our ills, darkness and madness. Is this an accurate take?
CP: Tyler D would only be one aspect of Adjustment Day. Most of the book depicts people who have little or no idea what’s occurring until it’s too late, and then must survive in the aftermath. It’s like the Left Behind books, but with Tyler as the Devil.
AY- As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, there is a rash of violence perpetrated by “Angry Young Men”. Some using the internet in similar ways with their own version of “Little Blue Books”. The correlations between your fictional world in Adjustment Day and our current state of affairs is frighteningly apt. How do you think we got here?
CP: Let me redirect. So many theories exist about how we’ve arrived, I’d rather leap forward and present attractive options for the future. It’s obvious that the current system isn’t serving these young men. Let’s create a cathartic narrative — Adjustment Day — that allows them to exhaust these destructive feelings or impulses. And let’s begin to propose and model new ways for men to find satisfaction in the world. That said, my role isn’t to fix people, but it would be fun to help invent a new more exciting possibility for someone’s life.
AY- How far are we from a real “Adjustment Day” scenario in America? What do you think is the “cure” for avoiding it coming to pass?
CP: The real Adjustment Day will occur within days or hours of our instituting the next military draft. When young men, who feel so alienated and powerless, must either die themselves or kill their leaders, they will rebel.
AY- Who do you think is the most “sympathetic” character in the book? Why do you think so?
CP: My favorite character is Charlie, and not just because we share a name. He finally discovers his destiny but botches it. He’s a fictional depiction of the old Peter Principle, wherein people rise to the level of their greatest incompetence. Gosh, I know that feeling.
AY- In the Aftermath of Adjustment Day, there is a partition, is this molded on true incidences of ethic cleansing like Rawanda or the former Yugoslavia? Do you think there is an inherent tribalism in human societies?
CP: Most the 20th Century was about standardization and unification. The most unlikely things were consolidated and held together by force. It seems natural that such a period would be followed by dissolution and self isolation. Did we not learn anything from Stephen Hawking?
AY- Historically, when revolutionaries assume power and become a new ruling class there is this inevitable slide into similar patterns that can ferment violent counter-revolutions. What do you think the message is at the end of Adjustment Day?
CP: My parents were born at the tail end of WWII and died near the turn of the century. They lived their lives during a period of amazing prosperity and relative peace. The message of Adjustment Day is: Be really careful about when you’re born. Words to live by.
AY- What is your next project, if you can talk about it?
CP: Like Talbott, the evil mentor in my book, I am growing old without an heir. So I’m teaching. I’m cobbling together the best tough love, practical writing lessons taught to me by my best teachers. And I’m writing short stories, which are the one-night-stands of fiction. They can be more passionate and satisfying than a 50-year marriage. That, and I’m working again with the artist Cameron Stewart on a yet-to-be announced new graphic novel. Have you read my story Guts? I can do better.
Adjustment Day is available now whereever books are sold or, just buy a copy on Amazon Prime with this handy link.
Chuck, I have read GUTS. The only Adult coloring book I own is BAIT. This tank is quite comfy, thank you!
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