Chuck Palahniuk has built his career on being a button-pusher, writing things that seem designed to freak out the pretentious literati but also—in theory—play like knowingly outlandish inside jokes for the people who are willing to operate on his wavelength. In other words, he’s the rare artist whose fans could conceivably make a justified “you just don’t get it” argument, which is presumably one reason why he’s taking his next book out of the traditional publishing system and delivering it directly to those fans and only those fans. Yes, like a lot of writers who would probably describe themselves as button-pushers who tend to freak out the general public with their wild ideas, Chuck Palahniuk is going to Substack.
For those who don’t know, Substack is essentially a newsletter publishing platform that allows writers to charge for subscriptions. It’s like having people pay to read your blog, but instead of having a Wordpress account, you can send it straight to their email inboxes. Pretty straightforward… except Substack has generated some controversy lately over an apparently secret twist to its business model. As laid out in this Vox article, Substack has been accused of quietly paying high-profile writers enormous amounts of money to use and promote the site without necessarily disclosing that they’re being paid to do so, making it seem like anyone can get rich with Substack when that’s not necessarily the case. On top of that, at least some of the writers recruited by Substack are what you might call “assholes,” with Substack giving them (and paying them to use) an outlet for, you know, asshole-type thoughts and opinions. (The Vox story doesn’t use the word “assholes,” but you know what we mean.)
Substack isn’t inherently evil and Chuck Palahniuk isn’t one of these assholes (no matter how happy he was about “snowflake” making its way into the internet bully lexicon), but again, he writes stuff that some people get and some people very much do not get, so him and Substack make perfect sense together. The little bio bit on his page even says that his newsletter features “exclusive fiction too out-there for prime time.” As for this new book you can only get on Substack, it’s called Greener Pastures and will be released in installments to his subscribers along with select pieces from up-and-coming writers.