As It Happens

Portland couple's reno reveals a time capsule from Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk

Jolynn Winter wasn't totally surprised to find a box from novelist Chuck Palahniuk hidden in her ceiling because of telling details she'd read in his novels.
A signed copy of the book Fight Club, later turned into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, was included in the time capsule Jolynn Winter discovered in her Portland home. (Jolynn Winter )

Story transcript

Jolynn Winter wasn't totally surprised to find a time capsule from novelist Chuck Palahniuk in her ceiling.

In fact, she asked her contractors to keep an eye out for "something unusual that's hidden in the walls" while renovating the Portland, Ore., home she and her husband bought from the Fight Club author 10 years ago.

"The reason I did that is because Chuck kind of had a little tendency to do some awkward things on this property that I noticed," Winter told As It Happens guest host Rosemary Barton.

For example, she suspects the property's rock walls are an homage to Palahniuk's novel Choke, in which a character collects rocks to build his dream home.

She said she remembered that his book Diary features a contractor who leaves "disturbing messages" inside the walls of a home.

"So I said, 'You know what? This sounds like a Diary thing that could happen.' And sure enough, it did," she said.

But instead of disturbing messages, the contractors found a backgammon case filled with treasures from 2002.

The time capsule also included some of the author's old photographs. (Jolynn Winter)

The contents include an autographed copy of Fight Club, old newspaper articles, family photos and a letter from Palahniuk describing the history of the house and what it meant to him and his family.

"We hope you're as happy in this house as we've been," it reads. "We've done our best to leave it much nicer than we found it."

This letter from author Chuck Palahniuk was included in the time capsule. (Jolynn Winter)

After posting pictures of the time capsule's contents to Facebook, Winter made photocopies of the pictures and documents for herself, then put the originals back in ceiling — signed book and all.

Palahniuk put a signed copy of his novel Fight Club in the capsule. (Jolynn Winter)

She and her family also added some items of their own.

"We decided to just kind of pay it forward and add to it and talk a little bit about our lives and put some photos of our remodel and our lives and what we do and how we ended up here and left that for whoever might find it," she said.

"Wouldn't it be fun, if, you know, maybe 20 years down the road, somebody else finds it and just kind of pays it forward again? And then 200 years down the road, if this house is still standing, you'll find 20 time capsules somewhere in a wall."

Jolynn Winter decided to put the time capsule back where she found it, but added a few items and a letter from her own family. (Jolynn Winter)

Palahniuk has not commented on the story, though it was shared by his official Facebook and Twitter accountsAs It Happens has reached out to his Random House publisher for comment.

"I do understand that he has seen the Facebook post and that he did see the local television coverage," Winter said. "I'm glad we were able to at least preserve it for him."

Winter put the time capsule back in the ceiling for someone to find in the future. (Jolynn Winter )

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