as she read mURdEr cLuB cANDy
Have you ever done meth? I’m reading Candy on her trip and whilst it sounds convincing to me, who am I to tell, I’ve never been there. Is it enough to have observed someone to be able to depict the experience?
Yeah, about 10 years ago. I have first-hand experience.
Now, I’ve gone the other way..even stopped drinking alcohol over two years ago..works better for me this way.
Have you ever really watched a snuff video, Matthew? Did it turn you on?
No. It’s not something I’ve sought out. I don’t think it would bring me or anyone any joy.
The closest I’ve come to that was about 10 years ago someone in film school ambushed me, showing me a Faces of Death video of someone fatally shooting himself in the head. It did the opposite of excite me. I was extremely disturbed by it. It is something I wish I could un-see.
It is not pleasant for me to watch other people hurt, even in small ways. Sexually, I’m most excited by watching the other person get off, be pleasured..that’s what makes me tick. Moderate, mutual, consensual pain is ok for me. Maybe not that moderate. But consensual. Having power over someone doesn’t excite me sexually or otherwise. Not into power, think it’s for amateurs =) Except for mild power fantasies like a mutual consensual rape fantasy for example. Political power, social, sexual, whatever..infantile. No psychologically, spiritually mature person has a real need to control another. Not how I imagine grown ups treat each other. I have seen documentaries that show some people are only sexually excited by violence, not by others’ pleasure. They can’t help it; I don’t judge them. That doesn’t happen to be me, though.
I’m totally squeamish. When the music gets scary in (even the most harmless) films, there’s me, diving under the duvet..
..and yet there’s something about violence that turns me on..
..can’t explain it..
..but I’ve never watched a snuff and I’ve never done drugs.
I get you (apart from the consensual rape..isn’t that an oxymoron?)
in Verses Nature we’ve got Carmina, who is the indignant victim of conjugal violence, yet the willing participant in love games with Tatar; games involving belts, barbed wire, bottles and other instruments which are never named, instruments leaving bruises which she carries home with her like trophies. I don’t need to explain that, to smooth out the inconsistency or make facts rhyme. We don’t rhyme. That’s the beauty and the fascination of it. Of us.
I almost asked, but I was afraid to discuss it any further. But I’m glad to know where you come out on it.
I may be more turned on by sexual violence than I think..I sure write about it a lot. I can certainly say I find it fascinating. Rape fascinates me but I don’t think, in the actual situation, I’d be able to get it up, because if the victim was distressed I would feel for them too much to enjoy myself. But I think about it and have role-played it. Truly, I find it fascinating and boring at the same time!
Normal violence is uninteresting to me. Just like shooting someone or beating someone. Torture is more interesting. Sexual torture more interesting. Mental manipulation more interesting. I don’t know, Joan, we’re strange creatures =)
Yes, consensual rape..it’s an oxymoron. Doh!
We don’t rhyme..one is not going to find a better summation than that, my friend. Well said!!
But the proof is in the pudding..my actual porn collection? 100% solo women masturbating. I like to see women happy (without having to see other men). I’m very straight, and very into seeing a woman get off. Very boring, perhaps, but it’s a pretty rock-solid measure of what I really like. Lol.
There’s a few men in some of them..I don’t hate my own kind that much =)
I’ve never bought/had a porn mag. I remember coming home from school one day and my dad was at home with a friend of his. There was the cover of a porn film on the mantelpiece and I could see what I would then have called women’s privates. I left the room to get something and when I came back, the video had gone.
Porn would bore me, I’m sure. It’s all fake. I like what goes on in my own mind more. Sometimes it gets me going so much that I cum. Hands-free. Just my wild mind and my nerves out in the open.
I’ve just finished MCC and can’t make up my mind if I need a week to recover or if I should go right back to the beginning and start reading all over again.
Thank you for an amazing experience. Palahniuk, go back to your trailer park!
Thank you..thank you so much for reading it and sharing your reaction.
I will leave you to your imagination and open nerves..imagination is the best.
To call this a stone cold masterpiece is right on. I can’t wait to showcase this on my blog! Do you think I could include some of our correspondence? I’ll always show you what I plan to publish so you can give it the green lights before it goes live. I think the conversations are great blog material if we have the courage to share it, precisely because they are authentic. But I don’t want you to think that any of this was premeditated. I can still ask you other questions which my re-reading of MCC will throw up; questions on style, or about the characters, etc. In fact, I’ve got one right now: Tell me more about Liss. Why did you create/need her? She’s quite savvy for a nine year old..in fact, what inspired you to come up with the plot?
Thanks for not laughing me out of the room at my boastful description of the book. I’m the last person with any objectivity to judge it. But as I think back on that book, I do think it has a technical..I can only say mastery..where stuff just came together correctly.
You are welcome to use any correspondence! I would love that. No need to give me a green light ability..I trust what you do. I’m honored that you’re choosing to write about it. I love the book and I don’t mean as its author..I mean as a person who is now equidistant from it with you. By the way, I recommended it to you, as I hinted at before, because I thought its mentality bore some similarity to your own. I am not trying to butter you up, but due to this book’s stylistic irruptions and subtlety I don’t think there are many people who would appreciate it as you have — and that is a special gift you have given me.
I started with the title, as I often do. I had notes for a quite different story which I abandoned the morning of starting writing, as I often do! I like to plan a story and then abandon it and write something entirely different.
This story is constructed from a few different angles, quite simply, and they just came together better than the mere author could have known:
– The title just came to me from my subconscious. It suggested at least a three-way ambiguity: does it mean a murder club led by someone named Candy or is it a statement of someone’s objective to murder a club called Candy or is it a description of hard drugs: murder club candy, candy being the drugs? I liked these ambiguities very much and felt I had a title I could write to.
– I am a huge fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and every derivative I can get my hands on. Even have a crush on Alice. But I feel the story has a problem: Alice doesn’t have to do anything to escape Wonderland. I don’t feel she earns her escape. In short: I think she should have had to kill the queen. Then her escape would mean something. Alice would have had to tarnish her morals in a way she would always be haunted by, in order to escape the queen’s world. I just always thought Alice should have killed the queen, and it’d been on my list of things to do as a writer, for a while, to re-tell Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Alice killing the queen. That happens here. Liss gets stuck in a Wonderland of sorts with her dad, led by a man in a white bunny suit (the white rabbit) and Candy is the queen in the sense that she is the lynchpin keeping this crazy party weekend going. Liss several times stresses to her dad that she needs to get home by Saturday morning for her Pilates class..same as Alice’s goal..she just wants to go home! Candy is keeping her there, like the queen, and in my version Liss has to kill the queen to end the party so that her dad will wake the fuck up, start being a parent, and take his freaking daughter to her Pilates class!!
– The specifics of the pool house drug weekend and the bars and the work environment and work characters are taken from real life..an exaggeration of a real party weekend from my history. Some elements are totally made up. Some elements are scenes straight out of my life.
– The one-character-per-chapter idea, I stole, like I stole the plot from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. That’s probably why this book works as well as it does: it’s all stolen, either from Lewis Carrol, real life, or William Faulkner in this case. As I Lay Dying does this same one-character-per-chapter design. I always admired it. I copied it. But I took it a step further and gave each character her own formatting and punctuation. Mostly I did this not for innovation’s or creativity’s sake but to make it easier to read..the reader knows, without even looking at the title of a chapter, which character they’re reading by the differences in formatting.
– Where did Liss come from? She’s the main character — we start with her and half the chapters in the book are from her pov. I guess she’s me. Frankly, a lot of life has felt like an out-of-control party to me, a dangerous, pointless party, whether it be work or family or literal parties. She’s a kid in an adult’s world — no power (except she takes some) — and I have felt like that often. The world makes no fucking sense to me. Stuff like this really happens. People do crystal meth with their kids. Jobs reward ass-kissers with no talent while a few diehards work quietly in the background to keep everything running. Rich kids like Candy are running around the suburbs of LA lighting people’s houses on fire for fun and breaking their things and assholes like me are (were) so bored with our lives that we went along for the ride. Liss is the out-of-control, scared me who finally does what is necessary to get back to normal life and learn some fucking Pilates. But that’s the point of the ending: the whole book, Liss encounters mostly untrustworthy, dangerous adults. Now she’s at her class awaiting her Pilates teacher. The ending, “She’s here,” is supposed to suggest the question: Is this going to be a good adult or a bad adult? Should we/Liss be glad that, “She’s here?”
– The front quote, “The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into the tiger’s den.” First of all, it’s a fortune cookie (like a real fortune cookie from the real world), and they order Chinese that night, so the [very light handed] implication is that this fortune was Liss’s fortune that night. And I guess there is no second of all..it explains itself differently to each person.
– At some point in the Candy drug monologue starting on page 191, there is a secret message written in the bold words..after a certain point, if you read just the bold words, this secret message un-weaves itself from the rest of the text. There’s no hidden message in her first drug monologue but the wildness in formatting rises and falls with her high. I wrote this book during an 11-month mostly sober period but I drank alcohol strategically when writing Candy’s scenes. I wanted to make them crazy, so I got crazy and wrote some crazy stuff. The rest of the book I wrote sober.
– The “Mondo marcio, eh?” (Rotten world, right?) phrase was written by my sister for the purpose of this book. I employed her help in this one spot where I couldn’t come up with just the right phrase. The concept of “rotten” was perfect for the sentiment I was trying to get at earlier in these notes by saying the world is crazy and people do meth with their kids. I combined this with “Ma petit poire” (My little pear) to get the phrases working together, in French and Italian, to give the idea of rotten fruit..or the juxtaposition of fresh fruit in a rotten world. I think, technically, this is one of the book’s best moments.
– Along these lines, I thought it would be really a turn if we spent this whole book thinking Liss’s dad is completely irresponsible and that’s awful and blah blah blah and then when she gets home things are worse! At least her dad doesn’t hit her!!! Her dad is irresponsible, dangerous, neglectful, but he loves her, he’s sweet to her. Liss gets home and we find out that maybe it was better she was with her dad and not her mom all this time!!! Hahaha. Mondo marcio, eh? =)
I could say a whole lot more and it’s obvious that I don’t mind talking about my book and myself. But I’m going to stop here and just deeply thank you, Joan, for making the effort to read my book and being someone who can appreciate it. It’s a gift to me — and so are you.
Your brother in words,
Matthew, William Faulkner was to be the subject of my thesis until about half a year before the thesis was due, then I switched to the Canadian feminist, Nicole Brossard. I read and admired As I Lay Dying too. Some bowl-me-over passages in there (as in The Sound and the Fury). The book was given to me along with the recommendation to dare to write my novel in the first person. So, we have that — Faulkner — in common too!
MCC is a masterpiece, no doubt about that. What you call the book’s irruptions is a large contributory factor to its success. If people are put off by it, they’re not your target audience. Having said that, I really do think your miles better than Palahniuk and he’s extremely popular, so you never know. Actually, you don’t even need to know. You just need to do your thing and not worry about “them.”
The novel emerges, only partially under the author’s control. True talk! In this uncontrollable/uncontrolled space is where genius lurks. We have to trust it. I’m attaching a few pages from the introductory chapter of my thesis where I talk about the dialogical relationship between the author and her/his work. This passage sums up how I proceed. Need not be the case for everyone.
I get what you’re saying about Alice, about the need for more agency. When I say her name, I also think of a snake’s hissing. Follow up associations: Adam & Eve, innocence, tree of knowledge. You opt for a pear instead of an apple; that’s ok :) Your Alice makes a mockery of our notions of childhood, like it’s a room you may choose to inhabit or get chained up in.
This book definitely deserves more exposure, Matthew. I admired Things Said in Dreams. MCC is..I can’t find anything that fits, that does it justice. It’s better than Faulkner, too, and yet you’ll have a hard job to get scholars talking about you cos they’re so cosy on their closed circuit. One of the reasons why I turned my back on academia. I got two of their most coveted qualifications just to show that I can, but it doesn’t mean I’m like them. I’m like you.
Hug from you sis,
BTW, I used different music for different characters to help get their different cadences.
Liss was several songs from Bizet’s Carmen.
Dad was “The Four of Us Are Dying” from Nine Inch Nails’ The Slip.
God, I wish I remembered what the others were. I have only guesses.
Winnie might have been Vangelis’ “Conquest of Paradise.”
Jacobi might have been the “This Devil’s Workday” from Modest Mouse’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News.
Candy..how can I not know Candy? Ugh.
Not that it matters.
But thank you so much for talking literature with me. You’re opening up a conversation I so often only have with myself.
I have to thank you for your compliments.
I’m not one to get a big head..I think the book is the most important thing, not the person who wrote it, you know, but..
Your acknowledgement of my work feels really nice.
Thank you. I owe you in ways I will probably not be able to repay but I can at least give you my thanks.
I owe YOU, Matthew. This is the best book I have read in a long while. It gives me hope that there are people out there who do not succumb to mere surfaces!
Have to say:
from your MCC notes:
“I don’t believe in the publishing industry anymore so this book is going to be really good.”
HA! I forgot about that note!!!! =) There’s definitely a relationship!!
How did your belief in the publishing industry impact on your writing, Matthew (and why did you let it???)?
You’re asking the hard questions, Miss Simon, and I expect nothing less. I’ll be completely honest with you.
When I wrote my first book, Snowbunny, that’s exactly what I thought the cutting edge of what I could do, was. It was stylistic, and I believed “the publishing industry” would embrace it as genius and publish it. I was universally turned down with the reasoning that my book was “too experimental” — and turned down laughingly. In my view, if your book isn’t experimental, then you haven’t written anything at all. That discouraged me, as back then I had publishing and writing tangled together in my mind.
In my next couple of books (Things Said in Dreams and Camp Lake), I continued to write exactly what I wanted to write — I think that’s shown by the content of those books (they’re very me — they’re my soul). But again, no one wanted to publish them — and I knew TSID at least was worth publishing. TSID they didn’t like the ending — too realistic — they wanted a school disaster book without the disaster and I was like: this is the actual life American kids are living. This isn’t an exaggerated book, this is (with respect to the disaster) more or less real: military personnel on school grounds, children using military weapons in mass killings that they wouldn’t have had if the military hadn’t made them in the first place, etc. They definitely didn’t like the idea of the main character being a passive psychopathic killer who lets the whole thing happen — but I wasn’t about to write some Wonder Woman character who saves the world — that’s not realistic (and it’s not who most readers would be able to relate to — I wrote the protagonist as the person/position most people would be in, in such a situation..a bystander..the book is about bystander evil). Anyway. Fucking literary agents wanted to re-write my book (“We could publish it if you change the ending.”) I was like, no, that’s not how this works.
With Camp Lake, several agents said they personally liked it but they could never get a major publisher to touch a religious book. I was like: It’s not a religious book!!! Did you read it?? It’s about a bunch of murderous incestuous druggie twenty-somethings who happen to be working as counsellors at a Christian camp doing a horrible job watching over their campers — as their youth group leaders did to them when they were young — the book is about not living up to your responsibility as a caretaker of youth. And..the spiritual journey of the main character is that of a Christian moving toward being an atheist. That does not a religious book make!! It has to take place at some kind of camp — and it needs to be specific or it won’t be believable (as any liar knows). They were like, Nope, sorry, major publishers won’t touch anything with a Christian angle. And I thought to myself: bet they would touch it if it was some marginalized religion — then it would be edgy and cool. But to write a book taking place at a Christian camp — unacceptable.
So I wasn’t writing books just to make them publishable..clearly..I failed at that even as a side goal. But after my literary agent interactions for those first three books, I had lost any illusion that these people were into finding good books and publishing what they liked and believed in. It was all about the sales, the perceptions, and a certain kind of moral gatekeeping that made me lose respect for literary agents and any publishing house that would rely on them. There was a freedom, therefore, for MCC because I really didn’t think anyone but me would ever read it.
I’m not fool enough to have ever (ever, in any context, in school or since) written something for someone else — I write for myself, so I can live with myself — and baby, can I live with myself =) But there is a freedom that thought in the MCC notes gives me, above even that..at this point I’m so far off the publishing path I doubt I’ll ever get back on.
Maybe, to close the loop, I have to say:
With MCC on, I felt one less eye looking over my shoulder.
And in conclusion, from ME:
This has been some great correspondence!
This has been an amazing, intensive, inspirational exchange! And the good thing is..there’s more to come :)
For me too, Joan — amazing! I’ve felt really brought back to life in the literature department with our recent talks.
Deep bow returned.