Chuck-alikes: A Chuck Palahniuk Read-alike List Part 2
Chuck-alike definition: Books like Chuck Palahniuk’s. [Click here for Chuck-alikes: Part 1]
Chuck’s books attract people who don’t always enjoy the books they were assigned in school, the books that hit bestseller lists, the books that you find in book clubs. Which means Chuck's fans have to be a little more clever when we're looking for other great books.
Here’s a HUGE list of Chuck-Alikes, non-Chuck books that might please the Palahniuk fan.
They’re divided up into categories, because a Chuck-alike can be a lot of different things, all with some sort of that Chuck-y goodness.
Books That Have Influenced Chuck
Interviewers, please, for the love of god, unless you’re interviewing an author who is brand new to the game, check and see if there are readily-available answers to the “Who are your influences?” question before asking. Like these:
Calling Fight Club a read-alike for The Joy Luck Club is weird, but it's a weird world. Wear a helmet.
Style, the mixture of darkness and humor. This one is a big influence.
Most of the writers who came to prominence in the 90’s hid their Stephen King influence, but now that literary reputations don’t work the same way, most have come forth with the King book that influenced them.
Chuck even wrote an intro for this one.
Another one that a lot of people don’t love, but the structure and sequencing of events are definitely something Chuck has spent a lot of time thinking about and dissecting.
Books that READ Like One of Chuck’s
Titles that might give you a glimmer of reading a shiny new Chuck.
From the author:
I present the actual act of evil so it's visible and give it a bunch of facets so that you can actually look at it and experience it. You're seduced into dealing with it. ... So with Frisk, whatever pleasure you got out of making a picture in your mind based on ... those people being murdered, you take responsibility for it.
JRJ has a lot of books that have a feel akin to Chuck’s different books. They’ve both worn a lot of hats, and they both deliver, big time.
The “K-Mart Realism” bible. Bukowski’s been dragged through the mud, mostly because of so many imitators doing bad impressions. But what most people don’t understand about dragging Bukowski through the mud, he’s been there all along. Doesn’t bother him a bit.
People describe this one by comparing it to being punched in different parts of the body. Depends on the reviewer and their experiences with being punched, I reckon.
There’s some Matheson in Chuck somewhere, especially in his horror stuff and short stories.
Nick Cutter wrote a Fight Club knockoff as Craig Davidson (or at least a book that was marketed that way), but The Troop does a better job walking that line of almost pushing the reader away but somehow compelling them to keep coming back.
A fine, contemporary use of a non-fiction device to tell a fictional story.
Imagine a sort of rural Palahniuk.
Palahniuk and Cormac McCarthy had an ugly, violent-as-fuck baby.
I recommend this story to anyone who will read it, but with the caveat that nobody else do the second-person novel, ever. DeWitt did it, but reading the attempts of others is painful.
Editors mean a lot. Gerry Howard, Chuck’s longtime editor, has edited a lot of other big names and big books in his time. Here’s just a few.
Howard could probably be credited with “discovering” Wallace.
The master of the sentence.
Well it’s depressing, and it was a HUGE hit.
This one probably fits in with a lot of categories, but Don’s definitely one of Gerry’s Kids.
Recommended By Chuck
Whether these are like reading a Chuck book depends from title to title. But there is no shortage of gems here.
The king of the short story.
Also the king of the short story. It’s a type of fiction, not a country. There can be two kings.
Might be a bit of a surprise here, but with its structure and use of objects, it’s a good read. There’s a reason Nora Ephron wrote like a hundred hit movies.
Wonderfully dark and depressing, it feels like a book that could’ve come out in the early 90’s along with a lot of Chuck’s contemporaries.
A Hunter S. Thompson type of embedded, gonzo journalism that takes quick turns from entertaining to vile.
Damn you, Donald. You kept that idea going, that mystique of the undiscovered writer genius working a factory job somewhere. Speaking of...
Jones was working as a janitor, I believe, and was only discovered later in life.
When you learn how to recommend books in library school, a good teacher will tell you to recommend one title that’s almost exactly like the one a reader enjoyed before, a second that’s similar but not exactly the same, and a third that’s a left field, gut feeling. Here are my left field Chuck-alikes.
Very short “fictional non-fiction,” which is fictional stories written as though they were real. The journalistic sensibility will appeal, and the premise of each story is unique and fascinating.
The style is really different, but there’s something about the story taking the stage in front of the characters...I don’t know, just my gut.
A very plain story told in a plain, almost obsessive way. The style is the star, and it shines.
What do you think? Enough to hold you over? Got any recommendations of your own?
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