|Disclaimer: I'm going to do my level best to not spoil anything for those who haven't read the book. For those that haven't seen the movie or read the book, I'm going to try my damndest to keep away from Plot Points that will eff-up your surprises... I mean, I'm not Rosie O'Donnell here! This is to be considered a NO SPOILER Review!|
Starting with a discussion on just who the Narrator of Fight Club really is, I elected to read the book to get a more inside view of Fight Club and thus, our Narrator.
Fight Club is the engrossing tale of insomnia, anarchy, psychosis, self help groups, sexuality, bomb building, identity, underground boxing, goat porn, film projection, table waiting, Mischief, Mayhem, Soap and cognizant, independent, vocal body parts of some clown named "Joe"! Well, no, not Goat porn! Our narrator is a discontented insomniac automotive recall campaign coordinator who takes to attending Support and Self-Help groups to put his life into perspective and to get the kind of attention that only the dying seem to procure. He pretends to have testicular cancer, gay republican disorder, brain parasites(!), bone disease, tuberculosis, blood parasites, organic brain dementia, ascending bowel cancer, you name it! Anyone who would have noticed he'd been faking for 2 full years either died or recovered and had no need to return. Through his coast to coast flights for his company he meets Tyler Durden, a sort of jack-of-all-trades night laborer who takes a liking to our Narrator. Through the Support Groups he meets Marla Singer, yet another faker, perfectly healthy with the same desires for perspective and attention.
When a freak explosion (!) destroys the Narrator's Ikea encrusted apartment, he moves in with good old Tyler Durden. The Narrator's extended network becomes Tyler's extended network, and Tyler begins a hot and heavy affair with Marla. "I want to have your Abortion!" Marla tells him! Together, Marla and Tyler intentionally or not are changing the Narrator's life forever.
Together the two guys almost accidentally create a fight club, sort of an underground boxing league where the straight laced and most ostensibly normal among us go to systematically rip out their frustrations and nihilistically purge their emotions. As fight club and its credos and rules spread like the clap in a co-ed dorm our main character-boys become nearly legendary, or as near to legendary as one can get in a club you're not aloud to talk about. Before long everywhere Tyler goes he's called "Sir" by men with black eyes, loose teeth and an almost zen contentment. When fight club becomes a training ground for an apocalyptic project bent on misinformation, mischief and assault, Tyler becomes more frightening than ever, even to Marla and our Narrator!
The main question of this work is just who Tyler Durden is. Why is he so charismatic as to secretly inspire so many disciples, how does he get his anarchistic views and skill, why does he latch on so to such a comparatively milquetoast fellow as our Narrator, and how does he know so much about making great soap for Nordstrom? That's the Sixty-Four Dollar question! Does it get answered? There are avalanches quieter than this answer!
On one hand the surprises that both the movie, and the film Fight Club share are easier to figure out in the book than in the movie. On the other hand, however, author Chuck Palahniuk employs a fantastic method of bringing you in to his story. At times the Narrator speaks directly to you as if you were his co-conspirator. I could imagine myself in the Elevator with our Narrator and Tyler pissing in the Gazpacho soup! Like a modern Richard III, the Narrator brings you in to his madness and introduces you to the other key players in so many surreal ways that you feel a bit off balance and swept away by the whole thing. The puzzle pieces that make up this net woven by old Chucky-boy fit together remarkably well to both bring you in to the mind of the Narrator and keep you fooled as to the real agendas of Tyler Durden. From the unique ingredients to a fine soap to the tainting of banquet meals to the splicing of pornographic frames into kiddy pictures to the building of bombs to just about anything else, Tyler is both crystal clear and enigmatic. Not all writers can pull this off. Palahniuk can! The man can write!
I'd recommend this book to fans of the film, primarily because it's not the film. David Fincher did a remarkable job of crafting Palahniuk's novel into a movie, and you'd be amazed at how much survived! More than most adaptations! However, there's so much more in the novel, and so many less loose ends. The ending of the movie seems very final as compared to the contrasted open-ended final chapter of the novel Fight Club! Unlike most experiences of this kind, the superiority of the Novel doesn't make one like the movie any less! It's amazing to see Ed Norton as our Narrator guiding us through Tyler's world, but it's superior to actually read and be pulled into the (sur)reality of the Narrator's own world. Whether you've seen the film or not, this is a brilliant and surprising novel that will keep you asking questions. You might not find anyone to root for in the cast of characters the novel gives you, but you sure as hell know the characters better than you ever do in most novels! Lastly, even if you've seen the film and know it like the back of your call girl's head there are still more surprises here than in a joy-buzzer handshake!
Watch this space for a bigger discussion with spoilers on the questions of Fight Club! I don't want to spoil anything here for any true believers who really should read this! Four and One Half Stars for Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club! Don't take it seriously, don't start your own fight club. People, it's social satire! But it's just about the best Social Satire since Gulliver visited the Lilliputians! Well, that's off my list... time for some lighter reading... I'm thinking... A Clockwork Orange!
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