33 Comments

Alex who?

Expand full comment

I guess my default book example for the topic of the fantastic and the known is Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’. Narrative about how the average day of an average man can have all the wonder and virtue of a Greek epic.

And speaking of shaving foam, the book also starts with someone shaving.

Expand full comment
founding
Mar 25, 2023Liked by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm not Alex [clearly], but thanks for this.

When I was a child, I used to walk to school with my sister. We noticed some pretty yellow flowers popping up in lawns in the spring. The leaves of the plants were even shaped like hearts. The first time I bent down and sniffed one of the flowers, the petals curled around my nose like a little kiss. It tickled. My sister and I took to calling them "kissie flowers." Now I've learned it's called yellow woodsorrel. Apparently it's considered a weed. Still feels like magic to me. 😊

Expand full comment
founding

Hey Chuck, are you planning to do another workshop series?

Expand full comment

I'm Jack Everly and I wholeheartedly support Chuck Palahniuk's Plot Spoiler (mostly cuz of pieces like this one...).

Expand full comment
founding
Mar 25, 2023·edited Mar 25, 2023Liked by Chuck Palahniuk

The magic for me has always been in a chequebook. Write a number on a piece of paper and money just appears. Sheer magic.

My dad was telling my mum about some bills they had to pay. Growing debts. The usual struggle. I sit next to him, my feet dangling off the chair and say, “Dad.” My tiny hand patting his shoulder, I say, “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you write a big number on your cheque book to get all the money you need? Like a big, big number, Dad. A million bucks. Maybe two.”

I think he laughed. Or maybe he just gave me that look of compassion that people who want to solve real problems with magic always get.

Expand full comment
founding

Oh and, of course, sperm. Sperm was a big magic one for me.

I was probably late with the whole wanking off ritual. My friend Bob, he brought me up to speed. After our piano lesson together Bob asks if I have ever wrapped my hand around my willy and jerked it back and forth. I say, “No.” I say, “What for?” He says that something comes out. Eventually. It’s pleasant.

So I do go home. I do wrap my hand around it and move my hand up and down. And then, nothing. Put my pants up and go play Tomb Rider on my Playstation.

On our next piano lesson, Bob squeezes one eye in a wink and says, “So?” So nothing, I say. Nothing happened. Maybe I don’t have it in me. Is he sure this is a thing? Like, does it happen for real? How long does it take? I’ve got homework to do and videogames to play. “Eventually,” Bob says. “Keep doing it until it happens.”

Back home I sit on the loo. Pants down, hand closed into a fist. The ritual begins again. And when I was about to give up, when I was about to go and finish my maths homework, it happened. My butt cheeks squeezed up, my toes stretched up, and just by magic something shot straight into the bathtub. That’s when my Mum knocked at the bathroom door and asked, “That’s quite a long shit you’re taking in there, innit?”

Expand full comment

The first time I noticed the shape of snowflakes. I was little and outside at night and I saw the light reflection on the snow and realized that’s why we cut the shapes we do with white paper at school! The shape of snowflakes is still magical to me.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the note! I don't remember the first time I saw shaving cream billow out of a can, which is a shame cause I'm sure I was blown away. It's the old Arthur C. Clarke quote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And we mostly just sleepwalk through it in adult life.

I _do_ remember wasting my dad's shaving cream to give myself fake facial hair cause it was _right there_ in the medicine cabinet for anyone to play with.

I also remember a bit of black magic from my childhood: vacuum cleaners. They sucked the world away into some unknown abyss, which I found terrifying. I used to run away when my parents turned one on, worried it'd get me. At least the cats understood that one.

Expand full comment

A bit of a tangent... The other day I was thinking about how a plumber and a carpenter never walk into the same room. When I’m dealing with a salesperson or some type of negotiation a lot of times what I’ll do is concoct some sort of strange perspective that the person can’t argue with. It’s my “truth” and it doesn’t matter how wrong it may be, you can’t change my mind on it. Maybe I’m trying to buy a Jeep and the sales person has convinced me that it’s a good car. But my friend had a Jeep and had all sorts of mechanical problems. I won’t shut up about how the price is too high because they “always break.” It doesn’t matter what the facts are, really. Only what I believe to be true. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But at least I have some sort of way to pivot the negotiation haha.

Expand full comment