Blame Richard Perez, author of the excellent novel The Losers’ Club, for upsetting my Endless Book Queue. He sent out a MySpace Bulletin asking if he was the last person to find out that Palahniuk was gay and then wrote a bit about Palahniuk’s Fight Club.
Intrigued, I got the book. I’d never seen the movie (I am further behind on movies than books…).
This is a hypnotic, amazing novel, unlike any other I’ve ever read.
I don’t know how to go about describing it without ruining any of it. It’s almost like one of those You Had To Be There things.
The unnamed narrator and a guy named Tyler Durden become entwined in a bizarre friendship between one another and a flipped-out young woman named Marla. The narrator’s insomnia and Durden’s daring ultimately lead to the establishment of Fight Clubs, where men can step into a ring hidden in the basements of bars to beat the living shit out of one another. The Fight Clubs in turn lead to the deification of Durden who then goes on to establish a series of Committees: Arson, Assault, Mischief, and Misinformation. It all turns into a cult manned with shaved-head ‘space monkeys” who have wound up, by dint of their low-level positions of employment, infiltrating almost every part of society. Think of a cult as powerful as Scientology but without the outer space bullshit.
The narrator, without ever admitting it, seems to be a closeted gay man whose self-loathing ultimately rears its head (no pun intended) to avenge itself on a society that will not accept him. There’s some stuff about anti-materialism thrown in, but I think that’s a red herring for the real point: self-determination, self-respect, self-acceptance, and Fuck All to a society that wants, above all, homogeneity (again, no pun intended).
Palahniuk’s writing is a revelation. It twists upon itself, plays with time and space, and has a rhythm that just entrances the reader and pulls him into the story.
From the first page I should have understood what was really happening. I didn’t for two reasons: 1) I don’t read books to figure them out while I’m reading them; I read to enter a different world and point of view, and 2) Palahniuk is like an expert magician, using words to pull off a sleight-of-hand.
I’ve never seen the movie. I don’t know if I want to. Movies from books are usually disappointing at best or utter shit (there are exceptions, but they are very rare). If you’ve seen the movie, forget it. Just go and get the book to read. It’s bound to be better. And it’s a reading experience you’ll never, ever forget.