Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk




Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company //my edition Vintage Classics

Release Date: 1996

Pages: 218

Genre: Adult/Literary Fiction

Buy: Amazon


Every weekend, in basements and parking lots across the country, young men with good white-collar jobs and absent fathers take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded for as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything. Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter and dark, anarchic genius. And it’s only the beginning of his plans for revenge on a world where cancer support groups have the corner on human warmth. – Goodreads


I’ll preface this by saying obviously I enjoyed it because I gave it five stars, but Fight Club is now one of my favourite books of all time. I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up, as this is completely my kind of book – dark, thought-provoking, strange, badass as shit, with complex characters and a brilliant plot.

Have I sold you yet?

The story starts in first person, following an unnamed protagonist who skulks around cancer support groups despite not having cancer, after his doctor tells him that his insomnia isn’t really ‘suffering’. He pretends to have cancer himself – a different cancer for each support group – and relishes the validation his suffering gets.

That is until he meets Tyler Durden, who lets  the protagonist move in when his condo explodes, but in return, Tyler asks him to hit him as hard as he can, and their life changes. Together, they form the rules:

  1. You don’t talk about fight club.
  2. You don’t talk about fight club.
  3. When someone says stop, or goes limp, the fight is over.
  4. Only two guys to a fight.
  5. One fight at a time.
  6. They fight without shirts or shoes.
  7. The fights go on as long as they have to.
  8. If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.

I won’t go into spoilers but I completely loved their motivations behind Fight Club. It’s not just about beating the shit out of someone, it’s about sticking it to consumerism and materialism (with more than a few jabs at IKEA) and the idea of people being moulded into a product themselves, to sell themselves as rich and successful and happy, while really having nothing at all. It’s about what happens when people are given new rules and permission to inflict pain to ‘fix the world’.

Not only could you sink your teeth in the themes, the writing was awesome too. I typed ‘beautiful’ there but I don’t think that’s the right word. It isn’t beautiful – it’s gritty and awful and brilliant. I’m so glad I’ve discovered Palahniuk because I just wholly connected to his writing style.

I want to keep going with this review but I think I’ve conveyed my coherent thoughts and the rest will just be noise, so I’ll leave with this: the twist got me, the ending was perfect… and the middle was perfect… and the beginning too.

So, anyway. I’m off to watch the film now.



3 thoughts on “Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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