Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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I’ve never read the book before but I’ve read enough plagiarized version of this book that nearly sour up this book. I’ve seen the movie a long time ago but thankfully I’m able to glean a new perspective without being distracted by spoilers. I also read the book along with the audiobook narrated by Jim Colby who did marvelous narrating the POV character. Because of the style of the writing which sometimes switch between first and second point of view, its harder to read this book as a passive reader and its a verbal book which demand a certain degree of attentiveness to stomach the medium level stream of consciousness within the narrative. Thankfully, the amount of clarity within it made the book tolerable for someone who dislike the literary technique.

“Fight Club” is in every way the definition of anti-Chic Lit which largely addresses the issues of modern manhood and its conflict in the world “raised by women”. In Palahniuk-verse, the men in Fight Club was emasculate by the ennui of modern times where there’s the lack of real man in the world envisioned by Tyler Durden, the fairy godfather who became the saviour of manhood with his Fight Club franchise. The narrator himself act as an observer and the primary case who developed by Tyler’s radical way to reassert the basic violent animalistic instinct within each and every men around them. He became a perfect legendary figure of manhood in which every character want to be. Considering Palahniuk is the major influencer of local indie scene, no wonder being a jerk was a thing. Everyone want to be Tyler Durden but Tyler Durden doesn’t want to be you.

Fight Club was controversial in some ways. It thrive on juvenile vandalism, physical violence, absence of emotional attachment except the bond of brotherhood gained from inflicting pain to another. In a way, Fight Club was emotionally sterile as the narrator himself. It never cease to amaze me how the idea of Tyler Durden being used to combat the modern inherited restriction imposed on these generation of men raised by tv and the idea of him combatting the social contract by giving active unsubtle social commentary on the rich while at the same time, Tyler manipulated these men into drones and drove his people to accomplish Tyler’s own insane purpose to create chaos. Which was contradictory since he’s doing the same thing his capitalist/consumerism ‘enemies’ doing to the general population. He inspire fear as much as admiration but his solution was the idea of fascism which is just as bad as what he was trying to fight against.

If the overwrought testeronism doesn’t alert you on this, it definitely didn’t thrive on the idea of feminism either. Since the story concentrated on the idea that masculinity was being deeply endangered that an ounce of realistic feminine characteristic was being caricatured needless in the story by the idea of Marla Singer. Marla the deeply neurotic problematic woman and the love interest who was broken, ignored and lusted by both of these two male characters. I’m far more convinced that Helena Bonham Carter manage to create the character image to her interpretation that it took a lot harder to criticize her character without thinking of her marvelous acting. But fact is, she’s a woman who clearly is problematic and anti-woman who decided to be inside an emotionally abusive relationship throughout the book. However, for all her idiosyncrasies, she doesn’t have any function beside being an objectified character and as the defining point where the narrator realize something gone wrong with him. She remain an elusive figure until the end of the book with no history and no life outside her unstable characterizations. Since the story drive on the idea of an average working men mostly in service industry who became somebody inside their little club, the lack of average woman being something else became too apparent. As if it doesn’t help with the whole unsubtle caricaturization with the beauty industry and plastic surgery and stuff. All of it fit in with the social commentary on the wealthy but surprisingly, a humanized woman or even children was absent in this book (beside the pornographic frame inside a family theater). Was that necessary to be in this book? Considering normalcy was optional in Fight Club but it doesn’t help making the story believable either. Unfortunately, because of this book, a lot of copycats does end up largely focusing too much on the misogynistic interpretation of this book which doesn’t help in reinforcing the idea. Curiously, I don’t think a lot of people pick up the homoerotic subtext from the Fight Club brotherhood.

There are better literature that exist before and after the publication of this book that deal with social commentary on the topics effectively. What Fight Club did well was the use of some literary devices in the story and it is enjoyable while reading until the moment where you reanalyse the situation again which was far-fetched in every way. The audiobook definitely improve the reading experience but on its own, it can be tiresome and mentally tiring with the applied stream of consciousness and constant repetitiveness and narrator’s slowness with the obvious things that was happening right into the face. I’m certain that the story does become predictable even if I hadn’t spoil myself with the movie.

On the other hand, since I do have insomnia. I’ve experience really well with what the narrator’s grievance especially with his inability to sleep. In fact, I manage the condition within these few years that I haven’t manage to trigger my insomnia for a couple of years now although I still have a hard time sleeping on time like normal people did. I obviously don’t have the mental condition the narrator have but curiously enough I’m surprised that he wasn’t dying on his feed or have heart attack or stroke with all the physical exertions he had. Then again, its a fairy tale for boys.

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