Chuck Palahniuk at the Fitzgerald Theater on Nov. 17, 2011. Photo by Tom Campbell.

Chuck Palahniuk's unique approach to storytelling -- which often includes gross-out humor, extreme situations and hair-raising exploits -- came through loud and clear Thursday night when he appeared at the Fitzgerald Theater as the season finale event of the 2011 Talking Volumes series.

The bestselling author's 12 novels include "Fight Club" (his fist book, which came out in 1996) and his most recent one, "Damned," about a 13-year-old girl's descent into hell.

In one long anecdote, for example, Palahniuk described how new French veterinary students face a grueling hazing/initiation that includes heavy drinks, possible doping and eventually being sewn inside the stomach of a dead horse. Another shaggy dog story involved the writer being driven around Paris by two stoned men and being chased by the polise until they arrived at the base of the Eiffel Tower at the precise moment when the monument's lights are turned off.

In a more reflective moment, Palahniuk told interviewer Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio, "all of my books are about unexpressed emotional states -- usually longing."

Ever since he was young, he said, he "wanted to make people laugh, or shock them, or teach them something."

Other revelations? Palahniuk said he rereads "Jane Eyre" once a year, and that he also frequently goes back to "The Great Gatsby."

The evening's musical act was Bombay Sweets, a surf-rock duo with Nathan Grumdahl and Jeff Brown.

Hear the broadcast version of Palahniuk's event on MPR at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Star Tribune profile of Palahniuk, with a short video, here.

Dylan Hicks reviewed "Damned" in the Star Tribune here.

At the end of the show, Palahniuk tossed scores of inflatable jack-o-lanterns into the crowd at the Fitzgerald. Photos by Claude Peck




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