Chuck Palahniuk, bestselling author of the cult novel Fight Club, claims truth is often stranger than fiction. It certainly seems this theme has held true in his own life. However, some of the struggles Palahniuk faced during his early years seem altogether typical for a yet-to-be-published writer.
Palahniuk credits his 5th grade teacher Ms. Olsen with igniting his interest in writing. He recalls she once commented on one of his poems, “Chuck, you do this really well. And this is much better than setting fires, so keep it up.” While not much is known about Palahniuk’s grade school and high school years, his passion for writing seems to have remained constant. After graduating from Columbia High School, Palahniuk attended the University of Oregon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
For a short time, he worked for a local Portland newspaper, but quickly became bored and decided to explore other employment options. Palahniuk worked as a diesel mechanic, repairing trucks and writing technical manuals for some time following his graduation. He also (as his fans morbidly enjoy pointing out) worked for a hospice escorting terminally ill patients.
In his mid-thirties, Palahniuk returned to writing, exploring a particular fascination with fiction. While attending a workshop hosted by minimalist writer Tom Spanbauer, he authored a few notable short stories and eventually his first novel. Despite his many attempts, Palahniuk (like many aspiring authors) failed to find a press willing to publish his book. In the wake of rejection, he continued to write somewhat unsuccessfully until 1996 when Fight Club was published.
— Dominique Dusek, Assistant Managing Editor & Submissions Manager