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Tell-all

by Chuck Palahniuk
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Publishing date: 04/05/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780385526357
  • ISBN: 0385526350

Synopsis

Questions for Chuck Palahniuk on Tell-All

Q: A casual observer might be surprised at the depth of knowledge of 50’s-era movies that you display in Tell-All. Where does this come from?
A: That vast wealth of 50's film info comes from my editor, Gerry Howard (who has a life-long crush on Gene Tierney, so feel free to tease him about it. He still carries her photo inside his wallet). Originally I'd written Tell-All chock-a-block with references to silent movie stars from the 'teens and 1920's, but Gerry thought they were too, too esoteric and forgotten. Ask me anything about silent movies--did you know that Lon Chaney was such a brilliant master of gesture because both his parents were deaf and mute--and I will bore you with trivia until you weep like a little girl.

Q: What is your favorite movie of that time, and why?
A: Anything by Douglas Sirk. All I have to do is hear the opening strains of Earl Grant singing the theme to Imitation of Life and I collapse into a quivering heap. Susan Kohner throwing herself across her dead mother's casket... that's movie magic!

Q: What is your favorite star of that time, and why?
A: Gloria Grahame, and I don't want to know anything intimate about her. In my mind she must remain a glorious, perfect object. In particular I do NOT want to know if she was dubbed when she sang in Oklahoma!.

Q: What is your favorite black and white movie, and why?
A: This question is nowhere near fair. Almost all of my favorite films are black-and-white: Wuthering Heights ("I am Heathcliff!"), Suddenly Last Summer ("So we went to Cabeza de Lobo...") and The Last Picture Show (Hank Williams is god) are all my favorite of the moment. No, wait, now my new favorite is Mildred Pierce. See...it changes by the minute.

Q: How do the films of that era differ from, say, the movie adaptations of Choke and Fight Club?
A: Back then, the studio system seemed dead-set on producing stories with happy endings. Now we're willing to accept something closer to real life, i.e. everyone gets divorced and dies.

Q: How has movie star celebrity changed since that time?
A: My guess is that the explosion of media outlets--the internet, cable television--have fragmented the world of celebrity into smaller and smaller fames. The growing monster of mass media needs so many new "reality stars" that the entire world has become a stool at the counter of Schwab's Drugstore. Hey, anytime I can work in a Lana Turner reference, I gotta go there.

Q: Speaking of Kitty Kelley, what do you think of the whole Oprah phenomenon?
A: I think Oprah should invite me on her show, then shower me with endorsements. She and I will become best-friends-forever and bad mouth about Jonathan Franzen. As her new BFF, I promise I will make her thin.

Q: What are some favorite recent movies?
A: Notes on a Scandal. The Hunger. Paper Moon. Wait, what year is this? Did George Cukor die?

Q: What did you think of Avatar?
A: I haven't seen it yet; I'm waiting for the Douglas Sirk remake with Lana Turner and Sandra Dee. Just imagine... Sandra Dee in 3-D. When Troy Donahue beats up the black girl, it will be like he's slapping me around.

Q: What are you reading these days?
A: Honestly, no lie, I'm reading Judy Blume books. Of course I'm reading her to study her style and "voice" but as an added bonus I now know how it feels to have my hymen broken by a high school boy who didn't really love me that much in the first place. Sigh.

Q: What are you listening to?
A: The internet machine is playing some thing-y called Pandora, and that's playing Blondie's Heart of Glass. Otherwise, Hank Williams is god. Because I somehow love both Country music and New Wave... that should qualify me for a handicapped parking permit.

Q: Any particular challenges/joys in writing this novel?
A: For me, anything involving keyboarding is a challenge. Oh, and spelling. The joy came mostly from reading 75+ Joan Crawford biographies and getting to tax deduct them all.

Q: You’ve been coming out with a book a year for some time now. Is that a pace that works for you for any specific reason? Any thoughts on producing more or less?
A: The moment I find something that's more fun than writing--and is NOT drugs--I will retire so fast it will make your head spin. I am addicted to the fantasy, research, the writing process. Seriously, I need an intervention.

My only other dream job would be to work as Oprah's butler.

Q: What would you like to say about your next novel?
A: My next novel, the one for 2011--argh, my life is so mapped out--is a novel called Damned about an eleven-year-old girl who finds herself in Hell and learns how to manipulate the corrupt system of demons and bodily fluids. Imagine if the Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume, and you have my next new project. It's so frustrating when this girl, Madison, realizes that she'll never grow up and become an adult...and believe me, I know just how she feels. Each new day, I look at my chest in the bathroom mirror, sideways, and hope it's grown. Maybe if they could invent a 3-D mirror...

(Photo © Shawn Grant)


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  • Tell-All - I plan to!
    From Amazon

    Let me cut to the chase... I hated this novel. I've read Palahniuk before, and I've neither loved nor hated his work. He's got a perverse aesthetic, but the guy can write. That's what got him the two stars. But this was the longest 200 pages I've ever had to read. Slim as this volume is, getting through it was torture. Tell-All is the story of fading Hollywood star, Katherine Kenton, and it's told from the POV of her... Assistant? Confidant? Maid? Consigliere? Anyway, the singularly unpleasant and deeply possessive first-person narrator is Hazie Coogan. Let me tell you, if I never read the phrase "my Miss Kathie" again, it will be too soon. It's hard to summarize the plot of this novel because ultimately there's so little substance to it. Set in the golden age of Hollywood, the narrative is highly stylized. First, there are no chapters, just "Acts" and "Scenes." Cinematic, rather than literary, vernacular is used to set these scenes, such as Act I, Scene Eight: "We open with a panning shot of Miss Kathie's boudoir mantel, the lineup of wedding photos and awards. Next we dissolve to a similar panning shot, moving across the surface of a console table in her drawing room, crowded with more trophies. Then, we dissolve to yet another similar shot..." All proper names are in bold-face, with those names dropped by the dozens in the style of old-time gossip sheets. Just paragraph after paragraph of filler. And if that's not enough, Palahniuk regales us with dozens of "witticisms" attributed to famed gossip columnists. For instance, "This prattle, further example of what WALTER WINCHELL means by the term 'toast-masturbating.' Or 'laud mouthing,' according to HEDDA HOPPER. According to LOUELLA PARSONS, 'implying gilt.'" Over and over and over. Then there were the lengthy passages along the lines of, "This woman is POCAHONTAS. She is ATHENA and HERA. Lying in this messy, unmade bed, eyes closed, this is JULIET CAPULET. BLANCHE DUBOIS. SCARLET O'HARA. With ministrations of lipstick and eyeliner I give birth to OPHELIA. To MARIE ANTOINETTE. Over the next trip of the larger hand around the face of the bedside clock, I give form to LUCREZIA BORGIA..." I'll spare you further, but trust me, it goes on for some time. Why say something once when you can say it sixteen times? And aside from the redundant, redundant, redundant text, even the plot eventually repeats and repeats six or seven or eight times (I lost count) with identically-staged murder attempts. By the time I reached "the surprise ending" as Hazie calls it, I was just so very glad my ordeal was over.

  • For Film Buff Palahniuk Fans
    From Amazon

    There's only one Palahniuk! Change the name on the cover, read the book, and you'd still know the words are him. The lines are packed with brash blunt wisdoms; they are riddled with rude and hilarious perversity; the characters are wicked /bent /dark /shameless /funny /pathetic /raw /honest. His sentences are prose poetry, and profane. The research is thorough -- careful but then spun through what seems a brain that's reckless and ever-laughing. You can hear Chuck laugh as you read his words, always, and this is true in Tell-All as well as the rest. In recommending Tell-All, the only item I'd highlight besides those signature characteristics is that the book has perhaps a more specific audience than his others. I suppose that readers who love old Hollywood / classic movies and the celebrities who made them (I think of Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, Mildred Pierce, The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc. etc. etc.) will love this book the most. Palahniuk's research into this period is brilliant (reminds me of the type of research work -- as well as his application of the research -- that he did for Snuff) and when I didn't know the references I found myself seeking them out, often then marveling over how he'd played with the reference so cleverly, so ingeniously, to suit his purposes. For readers who love how Palahniuk tells a story, for readers who love how he shapes our language, the book's got your name on it, and for those who love old film, you're twice as lucky.

  • As usual, Chuck delivers
    From Amazon

    Chuck has done it again. No, it's not as good as 'Fight Club' (but what is?) but it's an enjoyable read. I like the way Chuck does a retro view of the sex and seediness of Hollywood in the 50's. A quick read that made me laugh and made me cringe (in the best possible way) throughout. Highly recommended for fans of Chuck.

  • where's the oomph?
    From Amazon

    I liked it. I liked the name's being bolded. I think Chuck's intent was to make us realize just how often we listen to celebrity namedropping in our daily lives. With TMZ and STAR magazine and the like being a huge portion of our social media, it's no wonder he chose the topic of celebrity's and their bizarre lives. Wait, are their lives anymore bazarre than our own? Sometimes I think not, but instead they are just overtalked about to ad naseum. I think Chuck does a good job writing from a female voice and making fun of tabloids in this novel. The novel is somewhat short and is a quick read. I think when it comes to Chuck novels you need to understand Chuck to get the tonque in cheek qualities of his writing. Yes, some of his novels hit it out of the park. I believe this is one of them. I found this novel to be entertaining and quick witted but lacking some of the real oomph of Palahniuk's best writing of the past. However, in all fairness I must admit I'm not a big fan of satire in fiction.

  • An ok, funny book, Chuck's usual sarcasm every present
    From Amazon

    I enjoyed this book ok. If you enjoy sarcasm mixed with a little crazy you will enjoy this read as long as you don't expect it to be like his previous books. This one seems like it was rushed in the writing process. It is a little predicable. But would be an ok beach read if you don't expect to much. It is about a guy trying to make it as a screen writer in LA and all the strange situations and people he runs into. I did find some of the name dropping interesting at first, but towards the middle I have to admit it got a little annoying. But otherwise it was a crazy ride for the characters, more than for the reader.

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