Car Gigs Chuck Palahniuk Didn’t Take

Chuck Palahniuk, earlier this year, published Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different. In some ways, it is a book that writers who hope to be as successful as Palahniuk is can read so as to get some insights into the way Palahniuk went about getting to where he is.

Arguably, Palahniuk’s star went nova with the release of Fight Club in 1999, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and some other guys.

And as everybody—particularly those who have perhaps not (a) read the book or (b) seen the movie knows—the first rule of Fight Club is “You don’t talk about fight club.” (What these people may not realize is that they also know the second rule of Fight Club, which is essentially see Rule 1.)

Anyway, in the world of freelance writing, one could imagine a rule that says, “You don’t tell people about jobs you didn’t get/take.”

However, Palahniuk reveals in Consider This a number of OEMs who wanted to take advantage of his celebrity to do advertising:

  • “First there was Volvo.” He relates that they’d wanted him to write a series of stories “about an obscure hamlet in Sweden where an enormous number of Volvos were being sold.” (Fun fact: the population density of Sweden is 64 people per square mile. The population in Germany is 623 people per square mile. “Obscure hamlet” is relative.) Palahniuk: “They were offering. . .tens of thousands of dollars.” He didn’t take it.
  • “After Volvo came BMW.” The Bavarian builder wanted him to write a series of short stories that would be turned into an audiobook, loaded onto a CD and provided to those who bought Bimmers. Given BMW’s approach toward audio entertainment, such as CarPlay, one imagines had he taken them up on the idea there would have been a line item on the Monroney for the disc. Fortunately for consumers, he didn’t accept the offer.
  • Here is a case of (1) the tentativeness of memory of (2) an indication that some people don’t quite care as much about cars than others. “In the year 2000 or 2001, Chevrolet offered me five thousand dollars for the right to mention Fight Club in a television commercial for the Ram pickup truck.” Ah, right.
  • And an example of artistic purity or insanity: Jaguar Land Rover “offered me a half million dollars to write a story that could be made into a film that would feature a Land Rover in some crucial, high-profile way.” Palahniuk notes, “And maybe I was stupid, but I still said no.” What can be said about that?
The Volvo 70 Series had a run from 1996 to 2016, so possibly this would have been featured in the stories about the obscure Swedish hamlet. (Image: Volvo)

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