Author: Chuck Palahniuk // First published: 1996 // Genre: Contemporary / Thriller
This edition: 218 pages, published in October 1997 by Vintage Books // Get it @TheBookDepository
Read in September 2015
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Every weekend, in basements and parking lots across the country, young men with good white-collar jobs and absent fathers take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded for as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter and dark, anarchic genius. And it’s only the beginning of his plans for revenge on a world where cancer support groups have the corner on human warmth.
This might be one of the few times I would have loved a movie cover, this one is just not good.
Yes, I know that the book came first, but I still want to say that this novel had some big shoes to fill. David Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) is a masterpiece, and I’ve seen it close to ten times by now. I love that movie. So from the get go, starting reading the book, I had opinions and feelings right away. I will not lie, for the first 20-30 pages, I was not feeling it. The writing style is something I am not used to, and I struggled a little bit. And this is where my knowledge of the movie made it easier for me to follow the plot. Henceforth, the book suffered a little bit from the “seen-the-movie-first” syndrome, which meant I knew exactly where this was going and there wasn’t much surprise for anything.
Now… Let’s assume it’s 1996-1998, and you read this for the first time… This must have been a great unreliable-narrator read! All the clues planted, the narrator’s state of mind and way of expressing himself according to different situations… I bet back in the day this was a shock to the people who read it. I can imagine how David Fincher was drawn to this book to make it into a movie. I know that this is not the issue at hand, but let me tell you that I think the movie is actually a very good —and rather faithful— adaptation.
The struggle of the main character (living a “catalogue” life in which everything has its place and everything is how it’s supposed to be, basically with no personality) feels like a very 90s thing, but at the time extremely relatable today. We want the nice little life wrapped in a bow that society and media is selling us, because it is safe, and it seems easy. How conformity eventually becomes so boring and nauseating that you lose your mind over it, wanting to blow everything up just to get rid of it and get yourself beaten senseless just to prove that you can feel things, that you’re not this unconscious android going through the motions without even knowing it.
I’m giving Palahniuk’s novel a 3.75/5 stars. I didn’t enjoy it at it’s full potential because my vision was a bit thwarted by the fact that I am so familiar with the film, but I can definitely see what made this book really interesting to read and so fascinating.