• Michael Pogach

Pogach Reviews: Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk


The first rule of Fight Club, yada yada yada. We all know how it goes. Which is not to say it isn’t worth reading. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk, is excellent. But I have a secret. For one of the few times in my life, I like the movie better.

It’s probably because I saw the movie a hundred times before I ever read the novel. It’s probably because I can recite the movie almost line for line. It’s probably because the movie came out when I was 24, and being one of “the middle children of history” seemed pretty appealing and romantic and dead on cathartic at the time. It’s probably because of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter.

Fight Club is a psychological autopsy of American modernity and consumerism and toxic masculinity and repression and more and more and more. Palahniuk’s prose is often beautiful, sometimes awkward, and always spartan, like the skinny guys in fight club: “all energy, shaking so fast they blur around the edges…all bones and rush.”

Do you want a summary? The unnamed narrator is suffering from the worst kind of modern malaise: he no longer finds joy in the things he buys. Then he meets Tyler Durden, a secretive man who holds bare knuckle fighting matches in the basement of a bar. And, the narrator discovers, it is only in fighting, in defying society’s norms of violence and self-preservation and consumerism, that he can finally feel alive and free. But Tyler isn’t satisfied with one fight club. Or a dozen. He wants more. He wants Project Mayhem, and to bring everything crashing down.

Fight Club, the book, is 5 stars.

Which makes Fight Club, the movie, for me 5.1 stars.

5 / 5 stars

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