"Hero" isn't the right word, but its the first word that comes to mind.

I'm late- There's a problem with the train tickets so I have to get the bus to Glasgow, which takes forever. Eventually I find Borders Bookshop and walk in- it's eerily quiet. Where's Chuck Palahniuk, I ask. "Down the stairs" says the assistant and points. Thanks, I say.

Downstairs the place is packed. Chuck is somewhere in the distance beyond all the heads, giving a reading from Choke. I don't recognise the part of the book he's reading from. Wait, now I do- this is the infamous Simulated Rape scene I've heard so much about. As I listen to Chuck's voice, to the main character fumbling his way through it all, I can't help laughing out loud, and neither can the rest of the audience.

That Chuck knows how to make simulated rape funny.

After the reading the floor is opened for questions. During this, Chuck takes two opportunities to mention just how much he loves Nine Inch Nails. Standing there in my old NIN t-shirt, I can't help but smile.

The questions finish up and Chuck announces that he's arranged with the store that they'll stay open until everyone who wants a book or a DVD signed will get it signed. I join the lengthy queue and wait.

And wait.

Chuck isn't just signing books, he's talking to everyone. He gives each and every single person a good two minutes of his time. When it gets to my turn he shakes my hand and I give him my copy of Fight Club.

"Who's this to?"

Dave, I say. We chat for a bit, and I can't resist telling him about the group I go to. That every Friday night we find somewhere to go and we fight. That I've been doing this for coming on ten years. That the sense of connection and identification we all felt from seeing the movie and reading the book was unreal, almost spiritual.

Chuck can't help but be smiling all over his face. "I still do it you know" he says. "It's the feeling afterwards- when your body is completely drained..."

The sense of exhaustion, relaxation, of being completely at peace with the world, I say.

"Yeah! Yeah, that's exactly it!"

As we talk, we're both smiling and nodding, almost laughing; we're on exactly the same train of thought, we both understand exactly what the other is talking about.

I shake his hand.

Its been... really really great to meet you, I fumble, trying not to say "sir".

"You too Dave, take care!"

I melt.

When I get home, I take a look at the title page of the book.


       Hey Dave--

        Yourself from


Maybe "Hero" is the right word after all.