Monday, August 27, 2007

"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk

We've all been there tired of our job, tired of our boring life. Well that's pretty much what gets the ball rolling in this novel by Chuck Palahniuk. I've been reading other novels by Mr. Palahniuk and decided to revisit the book that got me interested in him in the first place. Actually it was the movie of the same name starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, that got me interested in the book. This also launched my Edward Norton fanboy phase...but that's another blog altogether.

The narrator in this story is not only sick of his job and his boring life, but he's also seen that he's not the only one. Most people try to cover it with consumerism. This book sets out to prove we are not our jobs, we are not the stuff we own. But what are we?

To discover this the narrator crashes these self help groups, like "men with testicular cancer" "Brain Parasite survivors" and others. Somehow he never gets discovered as a "tourist" to these groups. But one day he runs into Marla. Marla seems to be a tourist just like him. He's upset with her because knowing she's a fake keeps him from "enjoying" the groups and his insomnia returns.

He then meets Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is an artist at deviant behavior. Tyler has many low paying jobs and performs strange tasks just to create general mayhem. Examples of these are: splicing scenes of porn into Disney movies, Urinating in soup tureens where he works or urinating (or just stating that he urinated in) perfume bottles in which the catering company he is a waiter for is catering a party. Then the narrator's condo blows up and he has to move in with Tyler in a run down house on Paper Street. There are no other houses for miles around so they can do pretty much what they want. The house leaks when it rains, so much so that they have to turn off the electricity in the house when it rains to avoid any accidents. So going with this all the narrator has left is the few changes of clothing that were lost and then recovered by an airline. So has he sunk to bottom yet? No.

They then find that neither one of them have got into any fights in all their lives. So they fight each other. They then realize what it feels like to be human through the pain. Pretty soon they start fight club. In which all the men in the club are not who they are in the real world, but an individual on the fighting floor. Pretty soon black eyes, scars, stitches etc. begin to appear on people in the narrators every day life. But has he hit bottom yet?

In order to discover his humanity he first has to reach bottom. But first he and Tyler need money. So they make soap. Render the fat and mix lye and "ta-da" you have soap. But the fat they render is Marla's mom's fat that was liposuctions so Marla could get her collagen injections. It seems Marla and Tyler become a thing after Tyler saves her from a fake attempted suicide.

Well the soap is a huge success that they go to stealing liposuctioned bags of fat from a medical waste dump. The biggest buyers of the soap are big name, high end department stores. So basically he's selling the rich folks the same fat they pay big dollars to have removed. This money from the Paper Street Soap Co. goes to fund the next project. Project Mayhem.

Project Mayhem is one step further from fight club in that the members go out to show the world that they are not their jobs. They do things like destroying art, or fancy cars etc. At one point one of the narrators friends gets killed doing a Project Mayhem assignment. It's also at this point that Tyler Durden disappears. The narrator searches for Tyler, everytime he goes to a fight club everyone calls him "sir" and when asked if they've seen Tyler they all ask "Is this a test, sir?"

We then discover the secret to Tyler. In order to stop Project Mayhem (which has now reached nationwide) the narrator shoots himself with Tyler's gun. The book closes with the orderlies saying we can't wait for your return and Project Mayhem will soon be bigger than ever.

For those of you that have read the book or even seen the movie, you know the secret of Tyler Durden...but I will not give away that secret. It's more fun discovering that on your own...especially in the book. But I will list for you the rules of Fight Club and Project Mayhem. In the meantime discover Chuck Palahniuk, he's got some great lessons on society in this book.

The Rules of Fight Club

1. You don't talk about fight club.
2. You don't talk about fight club.
3. When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the fight is over.
4. Only two guys to a fight.
5. One fight at a time.
6. They fight without shirts or shoes.
7. The fights go on as long as they have to.
8. If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.

The Rules of Project Mayhem

1. You don't ask questions.
2. You don't ask questions.
3. No excuses.
4. No lies.
5. You have to trust Tyler.

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