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Fight Club

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Year: 1996
Pages: 208
Amazon: Fight Club

Read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and you realize it was easy for Brad Pitt and Edward Nortan Jr. to turn the film into a cult classic. The novel is both outrageous and profound but it also has a tighter plot that more easily coalesces than the film.

The novel is narrated by an unnamed average guy (nicknamed Jack) who breaks out of his monotonous life to rebel against the blah that is his life, his job and his society. He is sick of the bullshit of his job, the commercialism of a consumer society, and feels chained down to his worthless Ikea possessions. His sole relief is attending support groups and pretending he is terminally ill in order to illicit and feel genuine emotion and support from a group of people. He craves true human interaction.

Somehow (can't remember how) our beleaguered narrator develops a badass alter ego named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt character). Tyler Durden rebels against everything the narrator despises about society and replaces support groups with the invention of Fight Club. In Fight Club, people get together to beat the crap out of each other. It makes them feel alive. Naturally, Fight Club spirals into chaos as the narrator struggles to not let Tyler Durden dominate his life. Unlike the film, the transformation into Tyler is steady, logical and done in a way that clues the reader off as it is happening.

In my version of the book, Palahniuk writes an afterward about the immense popularity and social immersion of Fight Club. It is awesome. He serves up the idea that the story resonates with people around the world for the same reason why he wanted to write it - because this is a story for you, me and every average guy. It is a story that is to obscene for most to tell but perfect for everyone to read.

Litty’s Take

Palahniuk does a solid job of developing both an intriguing plot and meaningful themes. He speaks out for the frustrations of his generation and accurately uncovers the issues and fears of young adults. As I read the book I related to his hatred for the corporate world, disgust at places like Ikea dictating what one owns and how one should decorate his own home. We acquiesce to accept phoniness within society but still let it gnaw at our true happiness.

Obviously, Palahniuk takes the rebellion to the far extreme but it is fun to think about such an insurgence. He writes about what the average guy would love to do. Get into fistfights for fun. Defecate in food served to pompous luminaries. Tell the boss to f-off.

The narrator reminds me of a modern day Holden Caulfield (Catcher In The Rye) mixed in with some Thoreau. But instead of being resigned to his sorry existence and "quiet desperation", the narrator turns into a bad ass. It makes the reader feel inspired. The protagonist wages war with society and! It puts the reader's head in the clouds.

I'm pumped up to read more books by Chuck Palahniuk. I've heard about Choke, Survivor, Invisable Monsters, and Stranger than Fiction (non-fiction stories).


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