Rating: 4/4 stars
Title: Fight Club
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Published: October 2005
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company
Favorite Quote: “There’s grunting and noise at fight club like at the gym, but fight club isn’t about looking good. There’s hysterical shouting in tongues like at church, and when you wake up Sunday afternoon you feel saved.”
“The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.” The second rule is the same. Should we even be talking about Fight Club?
Chuck Palahniuk’s explosive first novel comes to us from the point of view of an unnamed narrator. Struggling with insomnia, the narrator find solace in crashing support group meetings for illnesses he pretends to be ailed with. Here enters Marla. With the same feelings towards these support groups and faking illness, Marla causes the narrator to be unable to sleep once again. And then we meet Tyler Durden, the narrator’s socially arrogant controller. Spinning out of control, the narrator, Marla, and Tyler develop a strange triangle of sex loathing and soap.
With the kiss of a mad man decorating his hand, the narrator joins forces with–or, more accurately, is forced into business with–Durden and starts an underground fight club to help men relieve themselves of pent-up aggression. Free to beat each other into semi-conscious conditions during secret basement meetings, fight club becomes an obsession for everyone involved and a life-style for Tyler Durden.
Enter Project Mayhem. From blowing up the narrator’s apartment to destroying anything and everything in their path, the members form an alliance of sorts to wreak havoc on whatever they can. They destroy cars, burn buildings, and generally screw up things for everyone. But no one talks. Fight club and Project Mayhem don’t exist because no one says a word.
Wow! This was a really great novel. There were moments where I felt the narrator was being repetitive in his thoughts and words. It confused me for a while, but I simply assumed this was due to the insomnia and mayhem that had become the narrator’s life. His relationship with Tyler Durden is very complicated. You often wonder, why would he want to be Tyler’s friend? Or, what does he see in this man? You soon see that they have a bond that is unbreakable.
What I truly enjoyed about this novel was that Palahniuk was able to capture the confusion of someone with a mental illness as well as how society may view that person. Once realizing what was occurring to him, the narrator is confused and desperate to seek out a solution to his problem. He desperately tries to explain his illness to others and explain the situation, but no one is willing to listen. They don’t believe his story. He has too many wanting to do him harm that he is unable to find a place to turn. When people do eventually start to believe him, in his mind, it is too late. He does the only thing he can think to fix his problems.
The idea of Fight Club became so popular in the novel. I think Palahniuk was also really great at showing no matter what people have, material wise, everyone always has a problem, some deeper root struggle that the world does not see. If this was not the case, Fight Club would never have become as popular as it did in the book. I am sure we have all experienced some kind of frustration, some kind of demon that has bothered us for years and we were unable to resolve this. Fight Club seemed to bring these problems to the surface for the men. They may have been physically fighting each other, but mentally fighting their demons away. The narrator often talks of feeling better after a fight. The fight put his demons to rest long enough for him to sleep. While I do not think we should all join Fight Clubs to feel better, but I think everyone needs a release. We all need a way to safely get out our frustrations and thoughts. There is something very Freudian about this book and the human mind able to cope by burying our problems. As Freud has often explained, our problems are never 100% buried. There will always be behavior and dreams that speak of our troubles.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone. I think there is something in here for everyone. Even if someone is not heavily into reading, this book is short enough not to intimidate, but very enjoyable. I think everyone can see themselves in the characters at some point. Not to mention the jaw dropping twist in the end will make you glad you read this book.