Review: Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Fight Club’ | Shelf Life


Shelf Life is a weekly book column where our staff reviews new releases, buzzed-about novels and personal favorites.

By Kara Aguilar // Contributing Writer

Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club is known for its raw film adaptation starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Over the years, the film has often been referred to as a cult classic and the book’s popularity has grown immensely since its first publication because of the film’s continued fandom.

The story begins with a nameless narrator who is stuck in his mediocre life surrounded by IKEA furniture, Starbucks lattes and cornflower blue neckties. Battling with insomnia, the narrator begins attending a variety of different support groups, as an attempt to combat the sleeping disorder. Pretending to suffer from whatever the illness of the night happens to be, the narrator finds comfort in an environment submerged in weakness. Then when everything is going considerably well, the sound of clacking heels approach. Appearing out of a cloud of smoke, Marla Singer begins invading the support groups in the same fashion as the narrator, and because of this, after two years of peace, the insomnia returns in full force.

Soon, the narrator meets a figure that will change his life forever, Tyler Durden. Tyler, perceived as the ideal man, is a master manipulator who thrives on chaos. Once introduced, he offers the distraught narrator a different perspective on his ordinary, uneventful life. Then, after a night of drinking, he turns to the narrator and says the words that start it all:

“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”

Once established, Fight Club draws in a mass amount of men ready to escape their mundane, white-collar lives and indulge primitive behavior. Every Saturday night, men gather prepared to inflict the rage that they possess internally on the person standing in front of them, who is there for the same reason. But once Fight Club moves out of the basement, it becomes bigger than anyone ever expected.

Intertwined in the story are many philosophies and attitudes that appeal to the counterculture of America. Tyler preaches that in order to reach true enlightenment, one must reject the consumer-based culture forced upon society. Once one has realized that they are not their material possessions then maybe, just maybe, they have a chance.

This philosophy is paired the idea of recognizing human suffering and using it for personal growth. Though the book was published in the midst of the rebellious nineties, many of the philosophies and attitudes still ring true today, almost 20 years later. Time has only given the Fight Club a chance to grow a stronger fan base and a popular demand for novels that mimic this idealism.

Fight Club exhibits everything one could wish for in a book: humor, action and an unexpected twist that will leave the reader breathless.

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To contact Lifestyles editor John Connor Coulston, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com

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