helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman April 30, 2018 - 4:26pm

As a book by the patron saint of LitReactor, it certianly seems like a worthwhile endeavor to book club this one. 

We'll stick to a schedule for spoilers. It'll go at 100 pages/week, so, starting May 8th, you can spoil up to the first 100 pages, then the following week, up to page 200, and you get the drill. You can read as fast as you want, just be aware, I'll post when we're spoiling up to page 100, and below that post spoilers for that section are fair game.

Please don't spoil anything for anyone else. Don't. If you're not sure whether something is a spoiler or not, leave it out. 

For those excited to get started, I had some inside info that the book/dust jacket contains a joke of some kind. So keep your eyes out.

And I hope you'll all buy it this week. Buying a book the first week it comes out makes sure it gets that coveted NYT bestseller thing going. So if you're considering it, pull the trigger this week! I have zero stake in it other than knowing that the best way you can support a work is to pay for it, and pay for it on week one. 

This thread might be a little quiet this first week, but feel free, if you're going to jump in, to introduce yourself, say hi, and tell us the last good thing you read. It can be a Chuck book or something else.

Happy Adjustment Day, ya'll!

 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated May 1, 2018 - 5:34pm

I'm in, but can we go by chapters? I read it on a Kindle so never sure what the pages are.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading Zombie Bake Off by Stephen Graham Jones May 2, 2018 - 12:51am

For some reason (and I don't ever, EVER remember this happening before) Adjustment Day isn't released in the UK until July!!!

Like, what?

So I guess it's an overseas purchase for me then...

:(

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman May 2, 2018 - 3:16pm

@Dwayne

The book doesn't have chapters, but lemme find a section break...at pg 102, a section ends with "That same year, grouse hunting season never opened." How's about there?

@voodoo_em

WHAT!? That's silly. 

Humboldt Lycanthrope's picture
Humboldt Lycanthrope from California is reading Sing, Unburied, Sing May 5, 2018 - 7:17pm

@Dwayne, dude, just tap the bottom left corner of your Kindle, and the page numbers will come up.

Humboldt Lycanthrope's picture
Humboldt Lycanthrope from California is reading Sing, Unburied, Sing May 5, 2018 - 7:19pm

@Voodoo Em, ha ha. The new Irvine Welsh novel DEAD MAN'S TROUSERS doesn't come out in the U.S. until July. I ordered a copy from England and am reading now. Guess you might have to do the reverse. Funny thing, they have the same literary agent, Or used to at least.

 

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day May 7, 2018 - 5:24am

Bought it the day it came out. Finished it yesterday. As a big Chuck fan, very interested to see what folks think. Will circle back in a week to see if people are commenting on the first hundred pages, but I think it's a pretty fast read, may not take three plus weeks to get through 300 pages, understanding that does depend on how much disposable time one has to read. But come on, it's a new Chuck book, skirt your responsibilites to work and family and get reading!

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day May 8, 2018 - 6:35pm

I'm about 100 pages in now. Have many thoughts. I think Chuck has rediscovered his roots in dangerous writing. I'm really liking it. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman May 9, 2018 - 8:02am

Okay, let's chat. 

Spoilers cool up to the first 100 pages. 

So far, I'm seeing why Chuck's publisher was nervous about this. Not because I see a quality issue, but because it does present some neo-conservative material from characters' mouths without preface or disclaimer. Don't get me wrong, I think this is right in line with what Chuck does in terms of tackling things without declaring what's "right" outside the narrative, and I appreciate him for that. 

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day May 9, 2018 - 11:46am

He also tackles some hyperbolic liberalism and gives them a dose of their own nonsense. I'm sure I can imagine where Chuck's sensibilities lie, but I did like how there was enough satire to go around, to call out folks of all philosophies. I found it refreshing since I don't think that's the norm in publishing these days, but I suppose that's what has makes him a unique author - he has his own voice and sticks to it. 

First hundred pages were really strong - the kind of begining that has you hooked and you can't wait to see which direction he takes you in. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman May 13, 2018 - 11:03am

Yeah, I agree with you. He's giving it to all sides, for sure. 

The first 100 pages are pretty enticing. Oddly enough, it's right where the action really gets cooking. It seems like a long wait, but maybe Chuck can get away with it because we all know there's payoff coming? What did you all think? Long wait? Just right?

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day May 14, 2018 - 9:51am

I think he paced it well. You need some build-up, wouldn't have worked as well if we jumped right into it. You can probably argue he could have gotten to it, say, 10 pages earlier, 10%, but I'm not going to quibble over that. The book has other, more pressing concerns in the later two-thirds that go beyond pacing. 

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman May 17, 2018 - 6:06pm

I forgot to post, but you're now all free to post spoilers up to page 200!

Thoughts?

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman May 25, 2018 - 8:55am

Spoilers for the entire book from this post on. You've been warned...

wilalbertdalton's picture
wilalbertdalton from Texas, USA is reading too much political news June 6, 2018 - 5:15pm

So I'm just up to page 156, but I'm feeling differently - I feel like the lead up could have been it's own book, a failed attempt by Walter, Nick, and Shasta to maybe attempt to stop Adjustment Day (like the Boy Scout that opens the book)... or whatever plot that would have given more space to learn and care about all these characters; with the exception of the Fire Marshall and his son (Heart Authority) and Nick (Head authority) and Walter (in love!!!), I struggled to care/believe the motivations of a lot of the characters... especially the  adjustment day villians/victims. I also think that's a drawback to the omniscient narration - I have to read the professors' and politicians' and reporters' motivations and dialogue as Talbott's caricature, not as Chuck's... their behavior/thoughts as presented seem doubtful, not authentic... which I think is affecting the integrity of the entire narrative voice for me.

I'm curious to finish the book to see if that's a deliberate story-telling choice. On page 117, the story utilizes some of the observations Chuck has shared before in his how to write essays, particularly the story structure of suicide, rebel, witness. And not long after discusses this book in relation to Fight Club! So I think it's fair to remember Chuck's comments in his how to write essays on why 3rd person should be avoided (every storyteller has a bias and 3rd person pretends to hide it which just makes the reader suspicious and draws them out of the story to question the author's intent). And maybe it's supposed to be an oral history, but I'm not seeing the distinguishing verbal tics for each character that Chuck could be giving them to distinguish their voices. For example, Shasta first said "eye-raping" to describe a leer. I thought it was a clever way of using her word choice to reveal her character. But then it seems like most all of the characters at some point describe something that way (like being shot dead=gun-raped). It's hard to believe that everyone has picked up that euphemismistic tic, even if monotony of culture is one of Talbott's complaints. 

The other thing I noticed, is there's a lot of porn references in the first hundred pages. Walter looks at porn to motivate himself, but a lot of other characters use porn as a simile. You got the list described as 'this pornography of public hatred' on page 79 (and I remember porn being used as a simile in other places, just not sure where and want to finish the book before I reread it! If someone's reading on an e-reader maybe do a word search and let me know if you agree that it seemed to be something a lot of characters had in common). Assuming my memory is right and porn is used as a simile a lot, I'm curious if that's a deliberate word choice to echo the theme of people wasting their life in the Before Times...or if it's foreshadowing of what the different tribes will discover they all have in common, uniting everyone once again... or if it's just the reality of the world we live in and Chuck as a good observer can't avoid using a reference point that just happens to be relevant to almost every character in 2018

My favorite part so far is the reveal/twist when Walter is looking for the tracking device in tied up old man Talbott Reynolds and Talbott explains there's no chip, getting sliced up was all a test of Walter's resolve. To me, that power reversal, that crazy unexpected reveal that upends what you thought you knew was going on, that's classic Chuck. I want more of that. My complaint with the number of characters/plots so far is that I worry I'm not going to get as many of those crazy reveals/power reversals as I'd like. 

It also makes me wonder if instead of being a spiritual successor to Fight Club, if I'm not really reading something more in the spirit of Fight Club 2, if Talbott's going to turn out to be the devil dressed up as an old man, maybe even having messed with Walter's ancestors for centuries, inciting the various societal shake-ups the book references... anyhow that's my guess where this is going... looking forward to reading to find out what really does happen next

wilalbertdalton's picture
wilalbertdalton from Texas, USA is reading too much political news June 8, 2018 - 4:17am

up to p226. I laughed out loud when Josephine Baker came out in blackface and Gone with the Wind patois. I'm liking this, could definitely see it as an HBO prestige drama, these folks trying to survive in the wrong land. Now I'm definitely feeling invested in these characters and what happens to them and what will they do and will they be found out or not.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman June 9, 2018 - 1:43pm

That was one of my favorite parts. I could FEEL the eyeroll from the other characters who were like, "What in the hell is this?"

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman June 9, 2018 - 1:47pm

It's interesting to read Chuck's stuff after reading his craft essays. It definitely provides another dimension to reading when you know what he's doing and why. I thought that Make Something Up was almost a master class in his different techniques. If you haven't read that since reading his craft stuff, check it out. It's pretty cool, and a lot of his techniques are very nakedly present in that book for those who have a heads-up. 

Do you (and whoever else) feel like reading is more or less fun when you start to learn more about writing? I'd say it's more interesting, but less fun. But I'm curious how others feel about it. 

Some semi-insider knowledge: He's got a book coming out of new craft essays. Tentatively called something like "Consider This."

 

wilalbertdalton's picture
wilalbertdalton from Texas, USA is reading too much political news June 9, 2018 - 8:09pm

Finished the book. I definitely liked the second part more than the first. Which, unfortunately, wasn't my expectation going in, having read a few reviews prior to starting the book, like this NPR one, which praised the first half and said the second part was mostly good, but not as good as the first part. @Deets99, I'm curious to hear what your complaints about the later 2/3 of the book were. 

Like I said before, I struggled with the characterization of the politicians, professors, journalists in the beginning... but the second part was just fun. I liked the renfaire speak of Caucasia and the bedazzled guns in Gaysia and the flying pyramids of Blacktopia. And the story twists and power reversals. And the characters were much easier to relate to when they were trying to survive instead of murdering folks I suspected weren't nearly as bad as they imagined them to be.

Chuck's said that a lot of his ideas come from stories/research that he just rearranges for narrative. Obviously, not everything's nonfiction, like the weaponized dildos in Pygmy or Beautiful You, that's probably his imagination. But the pissing in your girlfriend to prevent a pregancy, I'm sure that's as heartbreaking a true story as it is a plot twist in Snuff. But reading the second part of Adjustment Day, I wonder how much he adapted from his research talking to separatist groups and how much was him just imagining the logical outcome of splitting up into our own nation states. In my heart of hearts, I like to think real life separatists' fantasies are just as or more ridiculous than what Chuck wrote. 

I found myself wanting more, more, more. I still think it would make an excellent tv show. Like Man in the High Castle. I wonder if I should read Grapes of Wrath next, since it was referenced so much at the end.

And surprisingly, I liked the unresolved finish / fresh start of the end. What's Talbott doing looking for Walter? How will the war affect their hiding place in the borderlands? Why does Charm have so many tattoos? Etc. 

Regarding my earlier comment about 1st person narration, I came across the interview:

“In prose novels, I’ve never felt competent intercutting between multiple characters and plots,” Palahniuk says. “Too often, in books like Rant and Snuff, I could never make each voice distinct enough for my own satisfaction, but writing comics allows for so many different plots and realities. The narration can be in first-person while the panels are basically third-person. Cutting back and forth between all the different perspectives, realities, and flashbacks in Fight Club 2 gave me the confidence to write the epic, multi-character third-person perspective needed for Adjustment Day.”

With the exception of the "noun-rape" I'd say he did a great job differentiating perspectives. Especially with the renfaire speak and Dawson's wife/ring preoccupation. And to begin to answer helpfulsnowman's question about reading after having an understanding of writing techniques, first - I feel foolish criticizing Chuck with Chuck's comments. But initially, after having read and absorbed and appreciated all of his writing technique essays, and recognizing my tastes had changed - I was afraid to re-read books I liked when I was younger (mainly Dosteoskvy) for fear I would find too much to fault. But eventually, I did, and I found I could appreciate a variety of styles and was foolish for fearing. It's like sometimes you watch atmospheric horror, sometimes you watch a quick wit sitcom, and you can enjoy both equally, but for different reasons. 

So to answer @helpfulsnowman's question - I think understanding writing makes reading more interesting AND more fun. I don't know that I ever would have noticed all the pornography references in Adjustment Day, if not for reading on two levels, enjoying the story, and also noting what sort of similes and points of reference the author uses. And that may be unique to me, in that in my own writing, one of my weaknesses is using similes or metaphors that while full of alliteration and cute description, can if I'm not careful, derail the momentum of the story or authenticity of a character by pulling the reader out of the overall narrative. 

I've been waiting for his book of craft essays for a decade. So glad to hear it's on the way. 

Overall, I really liked Adjustment Day, but wish I had been able to go in without expectations about first half vs second half of the book. 

Deets999's picture
Deets999 from Connecticut is reading Adjustment Day June 13, 2018 - 5:54am

It's been a few weeks since I finished, so it's not very sharp in my memory anymore, have read some other books since (Philip Roth - never read any of his stuff before, then he passed, and now I'm getting into his Zuckerman trilogy).

But I recall my biggest gripe with the second and third act of the book was the volume of characters and how they weren't very 3 dimensional in my view. They were all there doing there thing, moving the plot along, allowing us to have our fun (which I did have, I did enjoy the book - I thought it was one of his better efforts since Doomed or Rant) - but there was very little depth too them and not much in the way to invest myself into someones outcome. He set the stakes high in this book, but without the proper characters to channel it through, to allow the reader to really connect with, the impact loses it's punch. This seemed to be a common concern of some of the reviews I read and I'd have to agree. It's almost like he tried the sprawling kind of stuff from Game of Thrones, but that's really, tough to pull off in a 300 page book - in my view, would have been better off driving the narrative mostly through 3 characters and limiting the ancillary folks.

Just one man's opinion - but like I said, it was still a page-turner that I enjoyed and I'm already looking forward to Chuck's next offering. 

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated June 17, 2018 - 4:04pm

I thought it was interesting to see someone show some deep thought and humanization about how/why there is a populist movement. Also, what the fuck was that?

wilalbertdalton's picture
wilalbertdalton from Texas, USA is reading too much political news June 19, 2018 - 9:54pm

future tv series. that's still my prediction.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day July 1, 2018 - 8:16am

Deets -- agreed 100%. I found there were a few too many characters, and the result is that the narrative is spread a bit thin, with characters somewhat lacking in depth. This became evident in the final 1/3 of the book, where it hit me I didn't care or empathize that much with anyone in the book, except maybe Nick and Shasta. The final stretch was a bit of a slog; the ending was somewhat satisfying but didn't quite make up for this. 

That being said, I still really enjoyed (and yes, admired) the book. The satire of the populist movement is bang-on, and just what the literary world needs in the current year, even though most people don't realize it. I lol'd several times and snapped shots of passages to send to my friends. The part about Stephen King's books revealing the magical powers of black people was hilarious. 

"Caucasia and always been at war with Gaysia" - channeling 1984 to show utopian dreams always lead to dystopia. Brilliant. 

and Dwayne--what the fuck was what?

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 3, 2018 - 5:16pm

White throwback world and magic black land... Just not what I expected.