The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is you do NOT talk about Fight Club. Those two rules may have to be broken right now.
Chuck Palahniuk is well-known for his cult genre of literature and his criticism of a consumerist culture. Fight Club, his most famous novel, which was also made into a film, fits well into this description. The narrator’s monotonous job as a product recall coordinator takes up half of his time, whereas the rest of his time is spent crashing support groups for the terminally ill as a means to cure his insomnia. When he meets Tyler Durden, who is both charismatic and generally crazy, things start to change. Tyler loathes pop-culture and consumerism, and he uses this to try to teach the main character a new way of living life.
The two men create an underground fight club which many men attend. It is typical of the proverbial fight club: it contains two men fighting until one is knocked out. At work, however, these men are just normal guys who have never met before; the scars and stitches on their faces mean nothing outside of their underground group
Much like the film, the criticisms of consumerism and pop-culture are shown: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything,” and: “The things you used to own, now they own you.” In the book, a lot of stigma is shown towards the idea of purchasing things. There is also a big concept about leaving the world untouched: “I don’t want to die without any scars.” The character of Tyler wishes to leave a mark on the world and himself, rather than being a mere puppet like everybody else. His ‘terrorist’ group, ‘Project Mayhem,’ is used by him to spread his anti-consumerist ideas and plot his diabolical pranks on America.
If you’re into heavy descriptions, Fight Club might be quite a change to read as there is a lack thereof. Despite this, the critical analysis of the writing adds a certain zest. Palahniuk’s writing style has a way of drawing you in until you find yourself up at 4am questioning every item you’ve bought and whether you’re just a puppet of what the government wants you to be. What he lacks in actual descriptions Palahniuk makes up for in his witty characters, unconventional plot, and eye-opening themes.
Whether you’re into this cult genre of literature or you just fancy a bit of a change, Fight Club is definitely recommended. Regardless of whether or not you’ve watched the film, the book is a must-read.
Words by Tamara Somasundaram