canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


Chuck Palahniuk Migration Patterns in 21st Century Big Box Retail

Editor's note: The events described are unlikely and preposterous, though possibly not untrue. Sorta like "Pirates of the Caribbean 3."

by Nathaniel G. Moore

Indigo Eglinton, Store #278
Tuesday May 22, 2007
1pm-12am
Toronto, Canada.

This is my ex-manager, all nineteen years of her, at noon: "Iíve been told heís doing a soft singing for his hardcore fans, but heíll be in the staff room all afternoon signing paperbacks."

"His books?" I ask.

"Yes, his books." And my ex-manager scurries off to an office to check her Facebook.
I donít follow. Iím still in litigation with myspace.com/notho and canít open a Facebook account.

In 2005 Chuck Palahniuk came to this same Indigo to read from and celebrate the Canadian release of Haunted. The rumours started floating that he was dosing the Yonge & Eglinton population with roofies, though no charges were ever brought up because the population itself at Y&E is considerably dull and thoughtless to begin with.

This migration pattern repeats itself. We are in Rant country, and the Random House vipers are here too, snaking around the shelves and scented gift items in biblical proportions.

On the way to the washroom, I brush past Chuck and since Iíve been "channelling" George Michael (Quill & Quire, May 2007) it seems a fitting location to begin my TDR interview with the man that penned Fight Club and Choke.

"Chuck, your new book is written in the form of an oral history with a multitude of perspectives. Was this something you had planned on from the get-go?"

"Why donít you mind your own goddamn business!" Chuck replies, dressed in black pants and a white dress shirt, very Tyler Durden.

I tell him he is being unreasonable and compliment his ability to imitate the typically thoughtless and irritating Y&E Indigo customer. I then explain how he also fits in this area fashion-wise, as Funhouse Magazine had recently featured this horrorshow of a neighbourhood in an article called "The Worst Dressed Neighbourhoods in the History of Cloth."

I continue with the interview from the closed side of the menís bathroom door. "Would you please just open up, for your fans if not for me!" He doesnít answer. I wait for what seems like an hour but is more honestly about three minutes then decide to bother the people in HMV and buy all the copies of Fight Club to peddle outside, even though on the Indigo sign it clearly says no memorabilia, mobiles and xylophones. For some reason I also buy The Goonies and Seed of Chucky.

A half an hour later, Chuck is back in the staff room soft signing his heart out while his "hardcore fans" are lined up in the hundreds, most of them celebrating Teen Pregnancy Week here at Indigo, dressed in bloody bridal attire, and snake all the way into the kids section. Some have plastic vomit and broken ashtrays. Most have copies of Survivor and Choke in their little grubby paws.

"Is Chuck your favourite author in Canada?...I mean today?" I ask one pimply prince.

"Yes. Even when heís not here, heís my favourite."

"You make me want to kill myself," I reply.

"But how can that be, I just met you?"

I turn to his friend. "And what about you, what is your favourite Chuck book?"

"Choke."

"Indeed."

Chuck Palahniuk is a big deal in Canada. Theyíve even named an underground parking lot after him in Pickering, mainly because it resembles the underground parking lot in Fight Club, but thatís beside the point. It seems like the people of this country like it when heís here, perhaps more than any other author in North America. I mean, heís bigger than candles today, and thatís saying a lot here at Indigo.

Using my Indigo immunity I call an emergency meeting with my ex-manager and some cash supervisors. I explain how rude Chuck was in the hallway, and how apathetic he sounded through the closed menís washroom door. "Heís not willing to do business with me, and thatís bad business for TDR. I think as a result of this, we have to teach him a lesson. This country isnít his ATM, his place to come and snack on, impregnate our cashiers, eat organic trail mix from our hair-dryered-out skulls. We should swerve tonightís reading. We should swerve his whole goddamn life!" I yell.

"What are you saying Nathaniel?"

"Okay Betty, or Sandra, I can never remember your name, go print up a CER (Customer Experience Representative) contract, get him to sign it saying itís a release for Indigo to publish his photos online or something."

"Then what?" my ex-manager says to me she says, "then what?"

I says "then we knock him out and put him in a big bag, throw him in the safe with the other people we keep around, then when he comes to in the morning, fit him with a vest and put him on cash."

"We canít do that. Listen, let me talk to Chuck, see if heís willing to do the TDR interview," my ex-manager says, I think itís Betty. But I grab her wrist, raise it to my nose. "Go put on your sweaty red dress." I turn my attention away from Betty and continue. "Heís left us no choice," I continue. "Look, we have to keep him in the store, itíll be good for business, and we have to do this on our terms. Heather would want this to, you know it, itís not fair that sheís in the Bahamas."

"Thereís going to be a lot of heat on you Nathaniel, can you handle it?" Betty says, slipping out of her vest and into her red dress.

"Youíre talking to the man who was ranked 7th in I-Rewards sales last Spring in all of Ontario. Sure I can handle it. I have so far. I just think we have to set an example, we can joke about catering to our horribly-dressed customers, carrying them around the store on our backs, reading the books for them, and doing their childrenís homework, but theyíre laughing at us harder than we laugh at them when they leave the store. They are getting away with murder, behaviour wise. At least this way, theyíll think twice before talking back to us or complaining that we took away the beds and the couches. Like they donít have furniture at home! Fuck them, fuck them and their Cotton Ginny scowls."

So we decide that weíll all gang beat Chuck down after the last fan has pimple-popped his way down the Bruce Mau designed stairwell, (which I used to spit shine with cheerleader tears every Friday night).

A few of my vest-wearing associates warm to the plan when they hear Chuck berating a young philosophy grad named Des (who is not even two weeks in the vest) about the "piss-poor" bottled water, that he wouldnít even let his goldfish drink the stuff.

"Thatís it," I said to the group of us. We were seven. "We go in, beat him down with sharpened giftcards and scentless third-world candles and put him in this big denim bag."

"Where did you get this large bag from Nathaniel?" Betty asked. "Wouldnít you like to know. Betty we donít have time to discuss this with the committee." Iím waiting for her to yell I AM NOT A COMMITTEE! but I remember that she hasnít seen The Empire Strikes Back 1,324 times.

Des joins us :40 seconds later, so now we are eight. "I canít wait," Des says. "I mean, yesterday it was that Goth boy asking me out, today itís ChuckÖ"

"Des!" I shout. "We donít have time for your fucking drama. I know youíre new but this is serious stuff and itís more affective if I remain the singular narrative God. Youíre all sprawly."

Des blinks in accordance, apologetic and a bit ashamed and we all begin our attack. 

"Heís not bleeding, heís likely dehydrated," I yell.

So the eight of us is enough to get olí Chuckster into the denim bag and down the lazy customer elevator. I throw in some stale chocolates and three bottles of microwaved (1:02) Indigo Clear water and we close up the bag, tossing it into the safe in the cash office.

Mike Fuhr from Random House is standing in the middle of Bruceís stairwell and is livid. "Let me handle this," I say, noticing my ex-manager sniffing the armpits of her stretchy red dress.

"Where is Chuck?" Mike asks me. Mike and I go way back, if it isnít a nod at Book Expo itís a toast with champagne and strawberries at Random House headquarters celebrating another Giller nomination, or itís a polite e-mail praising my violent bowling theatrics on Youtube.

"Chuck is resting in our hospitality suite." I assure him. "He has phase seven carpal in both his hands, itís spreading to his lower intestine."

"Is he going to be all right?"

"Yes, weíve given him 300 ccís of FCC. Mike, have I ever let you down?"

The next morning I visit my old store before a conference call with my psychiatrists, personal trainer and an LPG sales rep in Halifax.

I see Chuck Palahniuk (sporting a Sponge Bob band-aid on the bridge of his nose) at the cash in a vest ringing in a stack of Dan Brown books. Chuckís customer is hyper, like a puppy excites and rips newsprint with his feet.

"Heís so good," the customer insists, pointing to the books.

I canít resist. "Sheís not talking about you Chuck!" I yell from the edge of the counter, even though I know that my yelling is in clear violation of the Indigo Sales Prevention Act of 2006, I have immunity.

"I just loved The Da Vinci Code," the customerís eyes light up, wanting validation for this prehistoric and most desperate of retail gestures.

"Yes, heís very popular," Chuck finally says, giving into her consumer vanity, his lip still fat from being sucker punched by Des and choked out in Bettyís armpits.

As I leave a small tear goldfishes at my right tear duct, I hear Chuck whimper out a question to the cashier next to him.

"When is my first break?"

Yeah, choke on it Chuck, this is your new life, and itís ending one Dan Brown gift receipt at a time.

At press time, Nathaniel G. Moore was TDRís features editor and proud member of the Indigo Immunity Progam.

 

 

 

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