by Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club was written by Chuck Palahniuk and first published in 1996. Originally intended as a short story, Palahniuk expanded it into a full novel after his first attempt, Invisible Monsters, was rejected by his publishers for being “too disturbing”. The whole novel is told in the first person, and the narrator, the “I” of the novel, is never named. In the beginning of the novel, the narrator comes home from a business trip to discover that his apartment has been blown up. Everything that he hass worked for was inside the apartment, and it was all destroyed. In despair, he calls his acquaintance Tyler Durden, whom he had just met while on a business trip. Tyler helps him out and he moves into a house Tyler is renting. Together, they start an underground club where men come each night just to fight each other. They name it “Fight Club”. They start off meeting in the basement of a local bar and anyone who shows up can arrange to have a fight. The club is wildly popular with lower to middle class men and a large and fiercely loyal group of followers starts to form. Behind the narrators back, Tyler forms a cult like organization from the most loyal Fight Club members called “Project Mayhem”. The main goal of the project is to disrupt society around then by causing chaos and destruction. As Project Mayhem becomes more and more destructive, the narrator realizes that Tyler is going crazy, and that to deal with everything he might have gone crazy too.
It is hard to give a good summary of a book like Fight Club because so much goes on, and yet one of the things that make the book so good is the suspense it makes and the interesting directions that the plot goes. There is a major twist at the end, something that people who may have seen the movie are aware of. I would encourage people who have seen the movie but not read the book to do so, because some of the major themes that the book deals with are harder to see in the movie version. Plot wise, the movie version is very accurate and it is hard to read the book without visualizing Edward Norton and Brad Pitt playing the narrator and Tyler Durden.
I liked the book because it made me think about what it means to be an individual in the world today. It’s not a bad read, and I recommend it to anyone, male or female, who is interested in reading a slightly “different” book from most of the ones we read in school.
Why is this book “dangerous?”:
It is easy to see why this novel has been considered dangerous. The novel deals with themes of anti-consumerism, masculinity, and being an individual in today’s society. The main character becomes disillusioned with the direction that his life is heading. He finds that his life is defined by the furniture and the clothes that he has in his apartment; he is defined by his job and has no real control over his life. He finds relief from this feeling of hopelessness through Fight Club, where he can prove himself and find out what he is actually made of. It is easy for the reader to identify with the protagonist, because we have all felt something like this at one point in our lives. The way that “Fight Club” suggests that we deal with it all is nothing short of a revolution. The narrator blows up his apartment after he realizes that nothing in it means anything to him. He fights in Fight Club to really discover who he is. The narrator blames the consumer culture in American society for these problems. Tyler, whom the narrator looks up to greatly, wants and in the end almost succeeds in destroying many of the buildings that house corporate America. Really, it is the story of one man breaking the Master Narrative and bringing down the rest of society with him (but we already wrote a paper on that). If taken literally, this book could be a guide on how to justify your life by lashing out and attacking modern society. As proof of the books validity, there have been numerous instances of real Fight Club’s popping up across the country since it was first published. I could not find any information on the book actually being banned. I think its popularity and movie adaptation played a major role in keeping it that way.