Review: ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club The first rule about fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club.

So I guess I won’t be able to write a review about Chuck Palahniuk’s first book, which was turned into a movie starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter in 2001.

The second rule about fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club.

Yet here I am. Typing out this review. Which I should not be doing. I don’t want any space monkeys coming after me. Tyler Durden obviously can’t but the movement has gone beyond him.

That said, I can’t tell you any more about “Fight Club.” Except I really liked Palahniuk’s writing style. I wasn’t sure if I would. Then again, I was focused on what I remembered of the movie. And I was not looking forward to reading about dudebros beating each other up.

Oops. Did I go too far? Guess I better end this review here.

Just kidding. Though that would be an easy cop out, wouldn’t it?

I truly was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. Mostly, as I said before, because of what I remembered of the movie. And how I’m not a huge fan of reading violence — especially men beating each other up for sport. Also, the anarchy/”burn the world down to create a new one” philosophy wasn’t a big hit for me either.

But I liked this book. I liked Palahniuk’s writing, and how the narrator (we never learn his name) never has a line of direct dialogue. Throughout the entire book, you never really see him take control until the end. Even then, his voice isn’t there in the double quotes like Tyler Durden’s and Marla’s. He is trapped throughout the entire book and it’s not until end when he realizes it for himself: “I felt trapped. I was too complete. I was too perfect. I wanted a way out of my tiny life. Single-serving butter and cramped airline seat role in the world” (173).

You feel this trapped sensation from the narrator throughout the book. Even when he’s fighting, even when he’s turning into someone he doesn’t quite recognize, he’s still hidden. Tyler Durden’s voice is still stronger than his. Even when he attempts to call off fight club, the fight club members don’t listen to him. Even Marla has trouble believing him.

Crying is right at hand in the smothering dark, closed inside someone else, when you see how everything you can ever accomplish will end up as trash. Anything you’re ever proud of will be thrown away. And I’m lost inside. (17)

The more I think about this book, the more I like it. The more I let myself dwell on certain chapters, on certain passages, the more I like it. I’m considering going back and watching the movie again, which has a different ending than the book. Whether I actually will is another thing. Maybe I’ll just find myself a copy of “Fight Club” in a used bookstore in a few years, and read through the prose once more.

Third rule of fight club is if someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.


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