You know how you read Chuck Palahniuk’s novels and go, “Where the fuck does he get this stuff?” It turns out, mostly from what’s right around him. You know when you read stuff in his books and you go, “Is that true?” Yes, it probably is true.
The book opens with him hanging around and observing the Missoula Testicle Festival. What he describes is a streak of horror, orgiastic excess that is the exact opposite of sex. Car crash exhibitionism. Yet this, along with the rest of the essays on ‘People Together’, has this respectful warmth at the centre, an acknowledgement that people are trying to connect, to share and express themselves, to be creative. Even if it’s in awful taste, even if it’s bizarre, even if it’s banal. The hicks using old farming combines in a demolition derby, the horrendous physical abuse wrestlers put themselves through trying to get to the Olympics, the eccentrics building anachronistic castles in America. All is this beautiful expression of what human beings are capable of imagining and sharing.