New books from Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Palahniuk
This is “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” a weekly feature inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
Gladwell’s book – his fifth, titled David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – actually came out last week (10/1), but with the excitement of Phoenix and Sleigh Bells I must have missed it. That is until I stumbled upon a podcast (video below) where Gladwell reads an excerpt from the book. I have attended a couple of Gladwell book readings in the past and I only wish I could have him read all of his books to me live in the flesh. Each time I hear his easy manner I am reminded why I enjoy his writing (which “sounds” like he speaks) so much. Some people reject Gladwell as a pop scientist, but I’ve always appreciated his work – it’s important to simply acknowledge that his points of view are generally a starting point for discussion, not the last word. I’ve heard Gladwell admit as much – he reminds people that he’s a journalist after all, not a scientist. His articles and books are meant to be treated as food for thought, observations backed by empirical findings but that he is open to have challenged. For those reasons, regardless of the topic of the book itself, David and Goliath is on my must-read list for 2013.
The regard of have for Gladwell in the world of non-fiction is matched by very few authors, but one of them is Chuck Palahniuk in the world of fiction. I was an early adopter of Chuck, picking up his second and third novels Survivor and Invisible Monsters as soon as I saw the movie based on his first novel, the incomparable Fight Club. I continued to read many of his books, liking several of the less-popular ones such as Rant and Snuff, but I thoroughly hated 2009’s Pygmy, it being one the rare books that I set aside after only a few chapters. This was a bit of a shock, actively hating a book by my favorite fiction writer, but I gave Palahniuk another chance of course, thinking that he and I just weren’t on the same page this one time. Unfortunately, while 2010’s Tell-All was better than Pygmy, that’s one of the only nice things I can say about it. Suddenly I was in crisis mode with Chuck – I strongly considered the possibility that I might never again read one of his books. When Damned out a year later though I couldn’t help myself. The description was too good to be true – Palahniuk said it was “kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell.” The dark comedy writer I’d fallen in love with was back with a vengeance, as Damned was even better than I’d hoped. It was so good that I even went back and read Fight Club – finally! – to satisfy my Palahniuk longing that was eating at me this year. Now this week comes Doomed, the follow-up to Damned, Palahniuk’s first ever sequel. (Read an excerpt here.)
Between Gladwell and Palahniuk I’m reading to have my brain dazzled and my intestines churning. I expect to be illuminated and disturbed. What could be better?
And that’s What’s Making Me Happy This Week.