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.

The Professional: Part 1 (The Game Maker #1) by Kresley Cole

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The Professional is a contemporary novel divided in three parts which will be published out between several weeks between one another. In this first quarter of a book, it told the story of a young woman named Natalie who found out who her long lost parent was and a bodyguard, Sevastyan, who was sent to protect her.  They shared an intense attraction between one another but Sevastyan tried to keep her at arm’s length although failing. 

Surprisingly, it was archetypal. The story was cliched at its best. A girl finding out that she’s a modern princess and a knight who was forbidden to touch her. The innocent romanticized version of Bratva and more romantic atmosphere and decadence. Steamy atmospheres and more stereotypical romance with a twist. If you have read a lot of Kresley Cole books as I did, you’d be surprised that the book does stretch itself thinly especially with the worldbuilding. Although Cole did wonderful in bringing Russian culture in this book that I enjoyed the bits that was equally foreign to me, at times I rather want her to expand it more than simplified version to give way to the characters’ drama. It was all too convenient that Natalie was beautiful, smart, bilingual and now rich and virginal. I let myself being suspended by the disbelief as it clearly written on the intention of the post-50 Shades audience. But for the first quarter of the book, there’s that delicious sexual tension between the characters that made waiting for the next installment can be frustrating. Which was clearly intentional, I suppose.

For all its worth, it was an enjoyable start of the story. The dialogues was witty and exciting as well as the character interactions. Natalie wasn’t any bit of a pliant blank character commonly written as a poor substitute for the readers. She had fire in her and an individual of her own right. She enjoyed the power play between her and the ever dominant Sevastyan. There was that relationship dynamics between them but attraction was the theme in this book and also they also get to know each other before. Although she found herself submitting to the alluring bodyguard, she didn’t much enjoy being subservient to others and was clearly defiant. Although it appeared to be a substandard run of the mill erotica, there were more depth in the story telling than those thick brick novels obsessing on inner goddesses and abusive relationship. Even though Sevatsyan at the beginning  was essentially a stalker, it was his job and he’s actually hired by her father to do so and so which made everything different. It made him more of an alluring dark guardian of the night than an emotionally problematic possessive narcissist. An erotica novel that doesn’t have a destructive coupling, that was refreshing. 

Then again, The Professional part 1 is a quarter of a book. Basically what it does was to lay out the basic bricks of the story. It does what it intent to be as a hook and a sinker. I am definitely hooked and will look forward to the next installment. 

The ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2) by Jessica Clare

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Another instalment from the Billionaire series, but this time it does around the events in the previous book. A while back, Bronte and her new friend Gretchen was picking up some boxes of books from a mansion and the recluse owner eavesdropped into the conversation and find himself intrigue with one of the girl. When his friend Logan brought Bronte to the secret club as a show of trust, he managed to obtain several new information about the girl -particularly about being a ghostwriter- and end up setting a trap for her by buying a publishing house and offering her a chance to write a book about a boxful of letters he secretly bought for her but claimed he found it in his house. It is creepy but mostly because Hunter was an outcast and kept himself in the shadow because of his past that left his face scarred like the phantom of the opera. And yes, this is a premise for Beauty and the Beast.

Hunter is the most intriguing character in the story next to the vibrant Gretchen who despite all odds about her hating her job as a ghostwriter to a trashy pulp science fiction, she found herself intrigued by the 1800s letters which turn out to be a correspondent between two lovers and their explicit letters about themselves and also to the owner of the mansion.

For a light reading, I do found this book enjoyable and even if its cliched and often predictable, the interaction between the characters were never bland or boring. Cleverly written, fast paced and easy enough to like. If you’re seeking for a good light romance and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, this book can never go wrong with it.