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Peace and Love!

J Hart F

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk

I have many conflicted views about Fight Club. It is a very influential novel, filled with many critiques about America's social perspective masculinity, materialism, politics, and disease (and no measure of importance is given to the aforementioned listing). However, with all these wonderful ideas thriving, wildly pushing for attention and understanding, the novel is absolutely disturbing, depressing and disorienting. Fight Club is fantastically written, visually stimulating through prose, unique in structure, voice, and characterization and truly visionary in what it is saying on a deeper meaning.

However, I feel like I didn't miss anything by watching the movie. Everything, except for two major difference (one including the ending) is almost identically the same. The voice of "Joe," the unnamed narrator of the novel and Edward Norton's character in the movie, is perfectly encompassed in Fight Club the movie. The main messages (the easily determined ones at least) are put into the movie wonderfully: masculinity and materialism, as well as the slight political undertones (and can be argued overtones) of the book. As G.H. and I agree, the movie fails to address the obvious homosexual references made throughout the novel.

One thing the novel version of Fight Club has much more effective than the movie version is the foreshadowing of who Tyler Durden is. This, above all else, was done perfectly by Palahniuk. The explanation of his arrival, the symbolism of Tyler Durden's essence and arrival, the way "Joe" handles the realization of Tyler Durden, and the stark duality of the two were all marvelously written.

Another wonderful aspect of reading Fight Club are the prose. Some of these are absolutely wonderful, where some are outright disgusting and make you want to put down the book and go read or watch something fluffy and happy and so far removed form violence, blood, crime, etc. One of these amazing passages, even though it does have some disgusting aspects to it, is:

My boss sends me home because of all the dried blood on my pants, and I am overjoyed.

The hole punched through my cheeck doesn't ever heal. I'm going to work, and my punched-out eye sockets are two swollen-up black bagels around the little piss holes I have left to see through. Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyon's hostile little FACE.

Worker bees can leave
Even drones can fly away
The queen is their slave


Me, with my punched-out eyes and dried blood in big black crusty stains on my pants, I'm saying HELLO to everybody at work. HELLO! Look at me. HELLO! I am so ZEN. This is BLOOD. This is NOTHING. Hello. Everything is nothing, and it's so cool to be ENLIGHTENED. Like me.


Look. Outside the window. A bird.

My boss asked if the blood was my blood.

The bird flies downwind. I'm writing a little haiku in my head.

Without just one nest
A bird can call the world home
Life is your career
(p. 63-64)
There are many more passages beautifully constructed like this, bringing in such beautiful artistic styling broken by harsh sentences and disjointed imagery. If you're going to read Fight Club, be overjoyed that you get such amazing passages with wonderful prose and the occasional, beautiful, wonderful haiku.

However, don't read Fight Club if you are looking for a novel to inspire you, to make you feel hope and assurance and smart. And definitely don't read this novel if you want to be happy. The whole book is very depressing and makes you want to stay home and never go out and interact with establishments or people again. The ending, though competed in a realistic manner (probably moreso than the movie) is utterly depressing (if I may be a bit dramatic). It doesn't give hope, but tells it how it would be. The movie does a wonderful job at giving a hopeful, happy ending to the characters, where the book does not.

Overall, don't read the book if you don't need to. Watch the movie, over and over again, and you will certainly have the experience well enough. I hate saying this as a writer, as an aspiring author, but it's true. I probably will not read Fight Club again, anytime soon at least, unless I'm instructed to for a paper or a grade or something along this way. Sad but true...

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Josh. I read Fight Club on a plane a few years ago. It wasn't for a class or grade - but because The Metrosexual Guide to Style told me to. (Hey, it was in their top 10 books to read!) (Oh my God. I'm THAT guy, aren't I. Crap.)

    Anyway. Violence and destruction - I think there is definitely a certain attraction. There's something about the demolition of a building that can't be matched by anything else. The problem with the demolition of a building is that (in my self-assured opinion) it isn't enough. What good is death without rebirth. The beauty in it is there, but it's hollow. I like a good old fashioned massacre - but I also like to watch things grow. One isn't as good without the other.

    Also - I feel that you should write a haiku about bees. A happy one, because that one you've just referenced makes me very very sad. (And lets face it - your writing has been the most beautiful part of my day lately)