Palahniuk is always great -- even his non-fiction. This particular book is a book of essays he wrote of studies of how other people see the world, of interviews he's had with various people, and personal reflections. He's carried these world views from others into his non-fiction writings rather than just writing from his own world view.
I think my favorite interviews are with men who have built their own castle in the U.S. and with writer Amy Hempel. I also like his reflections on Ira Levin (another of my favorite writers) and on Brad Pitt's lips.
In his essay about Amy Hempel, he says that if she wrote enough, he'd just lay in bed all day reading her books. He calls her a master at minimalism; she's able to get a whole paragraph of meaning in a single sentence without a lot of lofty adverbs. His example is the opening sentence in her short story "The Harvest"
: "The year I began to say vahz
instead of vase
, a man I barely knew nearly accidentally killed me." Don't you love that? There's so much meaning in that sentence. It's so much better than merely saying, "When I was 18, I was in a bad accident." I love minimalistic writing. Some of the writing I find the most fault with is writing where everything gets rehashed 50 times and a book turns out to be 500 pages long rather than 200. I have to agree with Palahniuk that Hempel's writing style is brilliant. I must read her collected book of short stories
After reading the essay about Amy Hempel, I realized that one of the many things I love about Palahniuk is that he's a minimalist, too.