Have you read: Anarchy spread in ‘Fight Club’
Before young men around the world started scarring kisses into their hands with lye and began to take legal action to have their names changed to Tyler Durden…
Before Gucci fashion models walked the runway with black eyes, bruised, bloodied and bandaged…
Before students at Brigham Young University fought for the right to beat one another on Monday nights, insisting there was nothing in Mormon law that prohibited their “Provo Fight Club”…
Before The Onion newspaper ran an expose on “The Quilting Society,” where old ladies would meet in a church basement, lusting for “bare-knuckled, hand-stitching action.” Where “the first rule of the quilting society is you don’t talk about the quilting society…”
Before Saturday Night Live featured a skit called “Fight-Like-A-Girl Club,” and before there was a movie …there was a book.
When Chuck Palahniuk began writing the seven-page short story that would evolve into his first full-length novel Fight Club, he had a lingering black eye from a fight during summer vacation. He’d seen a television program about how street gangs were really young men raised without fathers, trying to help one another become men. At the same time, stores were filled with books like “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” novels that presented new social models for women to follow. There were no novels that presented a new social model for men to share their lives. Thus, Fight Club was born.
Reviewers didn’t know what to make of it. It was called science fiction, a satire of corporate white-collar culture, too dark, too violent, too shrill and dogmatic. Still, Fight Club managed to win the 1997 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the 1997 Oregon Book Award for best novel.
The nameless narrator of Fight Club is tired of his mind-numbingly perfect life, which revolves around his tidy wardrobe, an unsatisfying job and stylish Swedish furniture. He battles bouts of insomnia by attending a parade of support groups for people suffering from a variety of fatal diseases, masquerading as one of their own. Here he meets Marla, a “faker” like himself, who longs to hit rock bottom. Soon after, Tyler Durden enters his life, an enigmatic young man who is everything the narrator longs to be: a freethinker, a natural born leader, a commander of respect. Together they start a fight club, a place where men can shed the skin of their mundane lives. The rules are few and simple and ultimately liberating, the first being “you don’t talk about fight club.” The second rule? “You don’t talk about fight club.” Soon enough, our narrator is left in the dust when Tyler decides to step things up a notch and, on his own, begins to organize an army of mischief-makers intent on spreading anarchy and destroying the boundaries of conventional thinking. Together with Marla, he must find a way to stop the mayhem before Tyler’s plans succeed.
Palahniuk never dreamt that his book would have such a far-reaching impact on society at large. Nine books later, magazine and newspaper editors still call him to ask where they can find a typical fight club in their area. Thousands of people have written to him to say “thank you” for writing something that got their husband/son/students reading again. Others have written to say that fight club was their idea, started in boot camp or during the depression; that there have always been fight clubs and their will always be fight clubs.
Whether Palahniuk’s creation is wholly original or not, this outrageous and bleakly funny novel is sure to grab your attention.
– Lydia Chagolla is a sales associated at Neighbors Bookstore.
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