Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

"The first rule of Fight Club is, you don't talk about Fight Club."

Fight Club
was better than any other Palahniuk book I've read by a long shot. It was his first published book, and while all the elements that annoy me about his writing are in evidence here, none of them had yet become so irritating that they put me off the book entirely. Tyler provides the random "isn't this interesting" factoids, some of which provide the obligatory gross-out bits. The rest of the stomach-turning is provided by unnecessarily explicit descriptions of violence and mutilation, but they're not as overwhelming as in Invisible Monsters.

The main thing Fight Club has that no other Palahniuk book does is a story that's actually interesting and a twist ending that actually makes sense. For the uninitiated, the nameless narrator is dissatisfied with his life. Fortunately for him, his apartment explodes, all his possessions are destroyed, and he meets Tyler Durden, his polar opposite. Tyler is the Superego to Narrator's id, and together, they start a nationwide movement built around Fight Clubs, a way for men to beat the piss out of each other and reclaim their masculinity by purging themselves of all earthly possessions. From this noble goal, the Fight Clubs turn into a nationwide terrorist organization, and, in one of the best known twists in all modern literature (thanks to the David Fincher film, which is better than this book), we learn that, tah-dah, Tyler is the narrator. Your mind has just been blown.

Fight Club has some actual characters and an interesting plot, but Palahniuk just isn't a very good writer and his stream-of-conciousness prose and heavy-handed (but ultimately pointless) commentary drag Fight Club down. If you're forced to read Palahniuk, read this book. If you're not, read something else. The first rule of Fight Club is "Watch the movie instead."


Carlton said...

You hit me in the ear!

Christopher said...

I changed the 50BP subheading

Carlton said...

I like the new subheading. It makes 50BP even cooler than it already was.