24. Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik (1996) 208 p.
This was on my reading list for Literary & Cultural Studies, and I have to do a presentation on the film version. So far all my work on that has centred around figuring out how to include the word “testosteronefest.”
Fight Club is a difficult story to talk about because it had attained cult status long before I ever read the book or saw the movie (the movie is better, by the way). There is an entire legion of idiots out there who actually feel inspired by Palahniuk’s insane primitivist vision of a neo-Luddite paradise, where, as he repeatedly tells us, we’ll “stalk elk through the damp canyon forests around Rockefeller Centre.” Combined with the appeal to every man’s inner lust for brutal violence, this creates a very weird sub-culture that automatically makes me dislike the book that spawned it.
But it’s not really a bad story. Palahniuk’s writing style is choppy and disconnected, which I don’t like, but the book itself is fine. Just as the film does, it tells the story of a man who becomes disillusioned with modern consumerism, unwittingly creates a cult-like following to overthrow society, and then freaks out as he gradually loses control of it. The final third is the best part of both the movie and the book, as the protagonist becomes increasingly paranoid and desperate, trying to escape from his own rabid followers. It’s hard to judge a novel when you already know exactly what’s going to happen, but I think Fight Club works better as a movie anyway.
Edward Norton has gotta be Matthew Perry’s cousin or something.