Review: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

A book review by Bobulous.

Fight Club is a romance novel. At its core it's about the love triangle between an insomniac office worker, a night-dwelling movie projectionist, and an unusual lady called Marla Singer.

The book is narrated in the first-person by the insomniac office worker, written in a style that shows his broken ability to think clearly. Often, one scene is interlaced with another scene, sometimes one sentence at a time, as the narrator's mind flits from one train of thought to another.

Marla Singer's appearance takes away this insomniac's only method of finding inner peace, and he again becomes unable to sleep. In a bid to find another form of release, he and the movie projectionist preside over the creation of fight club, a place where men can embrace the masculinity that modern society has shamed out of them. The popularity of fight club begins to mushroom, and the insomniac starts to wonder what he's started.

Anyone who has seen the movie adaptation of Fight Club will find the content of this book very familiar. Nearly every scene in the movie is found in the book, and vice versa, with just the odd difference here and there. And most of the narrative in the film is lifted straight from the book, such that when you start reading you immediately hear Edward Norton's voice delivering the lines.

Being limited to using words helps the book to detail the personalities of its characters. Reading the book, it seemed clearer that the lost souls in the story find the threat of death fascinating because of its ability to make them feel alive, if only for a few seconds at a time. And in the book Project Mayhem seems much more malicious than its equivalent in the film version, which casts it as michievous instead. The book also treats the ending slightly differently to the way the movie brings the story to a close.

The new afterword by Chuck Palahniuk is also interesting, telling of the widespread attention that the novel gained on its release. The author also suggests that the rules of Fight Club were created as a device to allow the narrative to jump from scene to scene, which is an amusing revelation.

Someone who saw the movie version of Fight Club and didn't enjoy it will very likely not feel differently about this novel. But a fan of the movie would probably enjoy reading the novel, if only to see where it all started.