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Fight Club: A Novel Paperback – May 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

The only person who gets called Ballardesque more often than Chuck Palahniuk is, well... J.G. Ballard. So, does Portland, Oregon's "torchbearer for the nihilistic generation" deserve that kind of treatment? Yes and no. There is a resemblance between Fight Club and works such as Crash and Cocaine Nights in that both see the innocuous mundanities of everyday life as nothing more than the severely loosened cap on a seething underworld cauldron of unchecked impulse and social atrocity. Welcome to the present-day U.S. of A. As Ballard's characters get their jollies from staging automobile accidents, Palahniuk's yuppies unwind from a day at the office by organizing bloodsport rings and selling soap to fund anarchist overthrows. Let's just say that neither of these guys are going to be called in to do a Full House script rewrite any time soon.

But while the ingredients are the same, Ballard and Palahniuk bake at completely different temperatures. Unlike his British counterpart, who tends to cast his American protagonists in a chilly light, holding them close enough to dissect but far enough away to eliminate any possibility of kinship, Palahniuk isn't happy unless he's first-person front and center, completely entangled in the whole sordid mess. An intensely psychological novel that never runs the risk of becoming clinical, Fight Club is about both the dangers of loyalty and the dreaded weight of leadership, the desire to band together and the compulsion to head for the hills. In short, it's about the pride and horror of being an American, rendered in lethally swift prose. Fight Club's protagonist might occasionally become foggy about who he truly is (you'll see what I mean), but one thing is for certain: you're not likely to forget the book's author. Never mind Ballardesque. Palahniukian here we come! --Bob Michaels --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The 2008 audio edition of Palahniuk's ground-breaking 1996 novel provides a timely opportunity to contemplate the direction of Generation X and the wider, popular culture over the past dozen years. The white, male, 20-something angst of the story's unnamed protagonist and his mysterious partner in crime, Tyler Durden, may now sometimes seem like slightly dated grunge rock. Also, the themes of domestic terrorism and insurrection certainly play differently in a post–September 11 world. Yet Palahniuk's power to provoke our collective sacred cows remains undeniable. The narrative—with its delusional twists and turns—presents serious challenges on audio. James Colby cleverly plays deadpan cool through much of the early plot exposition so that the chaos that eventually takes hold becomes all the more eerie and surreal. He pulls off the convoluted climactic revelations with emotional authenticity. The listening experience may be too jarring for general audiences merely hoping for a commute diversion. However, the release offers today's crop of young urban hipsters an opportunity to connect with the voices of a previous decade. A W.W. Norton paperback (Reviews, June 3, 1996). (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; Reissue edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805076476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805076479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,360 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Lullaby, Survivor, Haunted, and Invisible Monsters. Portions of Choke have appeared in Playboy, and Palahniuk's nonfiction work has been published by Gear, Black Book, The Stranger, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on January 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Usually great books are either turned into mediocre films or else great films are made from mediocre books (and we won't even get into the sordid details of the novelizations). Fight Club is one of the rare instances where a great film was made from a great book. It is perhaps unfair to mention the film version while discussing the book as they are actually two very different animals. (And animal is the right word -- perhaps uniquely amongst contemporary novelists, Chuck Palahniuk writes novels that seem to live in the reader's hands, often threatening at any minute to lunge for the throat.) While most of the film's incidents are in the book and much of the razor-sharp dialouge is reproduced directly from the page, the book actually has a far greater satiric edge than the film. Whereas the film used the story as a celebration of nihilism, the book is far too self-aware to allow itself to truly celebrate anything. As such, it becomes less a call to action and more a devastatingly real portrait of a society that has become so commercialized and codified that even the once primal act of revolution becomes just another submission to pop culture.
Fight Club is the story of an unnamed narrator, an insomniac yuppie who spends his days helping insurance companies get out of having to pay their claims. He wanders through a meaningless life until he discovers the emotional release of attending therapy groups for people suffering from various deadly (and rather embarressing) diseases -- all of which the narrator pretends to have. When the arrival of another "faker" (the wonderfully dark Marla Singer, whose role is far less central in the book than in the film), the narrator finds even the shallow comfort of testicular cancer self-help groups has been taken away from him.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Trixie on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're coming to the book after seeing the film-it's ok to raise your hand here as your reviewer did also-you'll see the screenwriter pretty much took the book's contents verbatim. What's missing are a few funny moments like Marla's unwitting part in the soap-making process and some disturbing details of her's and Tyler's sex life. Plus a different and more satisfying ending (c'mon, you didn't think the narrator and Marla were really in love did you?)Palahniuk's jump-cut, stream-of-consciousness style take a little getting used to, but this is a clever black comedy that leaves you with more to think about than the punchlines when it's over. It's about a culture of numbness, where Huxley, not Orwell, was right and the only way to feel is to drive yourself to the limits of physical pain or destroy something beautiful. You've probably seen the movie and giving away plot details would just detract from the experience. Just read it!
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74 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Curt Overpeck on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Chuck Palahniuk's debut novel, "Fight Club," is one of the greatest, provocative, and enlightening books written for our generation. It's a must-read, with a brilliant story, a writing style wonderfully crafted to depict the real world for as disgusting as it is, and a mischievous character who goes by the name of Tyler Durden, who's out to change the grotesque problems of modern-day society, for good.
--And great brain food. There are some issues and statements given in this book that really make you think especially about how we're defining "progress" for humanity. How do we define success and progress, but by how big of a house we have, or how much we have in the bank, or how pretty our wives look? In this book, the anti-society society "Fight Club" determines success by how little you have.
"Only until we lose everything, are we free to do anything."
Tyler Durden, Fight Club--the movie
Modern-day consumer-driven cultures have begun to press down on people to the breaking point, and now Tyler Durden has started his own therapy group that is growing rapidly in number by each session. It's a therapy group, unlike most of the others, and instead of giving you guided spiritual meditation and opening your chakras, it promotes violence, pain, and self-destruction. It's a group where aggressive males are sporting organized fight sessions to empower themselves by hitting rock bottom. Its called "Fight Club," and it's rapidly spreading in bars all over the United States.
But I've probably said too much already. "First rule of fight club is you cannot talk about fight club, and the second rule of fight club is you cannot talk about fight club.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is what those new age self-help books don't teach you. They don't REALLY show you how screwed up the world is with you trapped in the middle. Let Tyler Durden show you why your life is so screwed up. Is it because we've become obsessed with a corporate-infused lifestyle? Part of it. Is it because people have some sort of sick desperation in their lives? Yes. Is it because corporations have taken over our lives? Yes. Is it because people are scared to prove they're alive? Definately.
The plot basically revolves around an insomniac. Our unnamed protagonist goes to support groups to cure his insomnia, until another faker, a woman named Marla, begins faking her way through these groups. After his condo was blown up, he goes to live with Tyler, a man he met on a nude beach. Tyler's only request is that the two of them start a fight. When fight club becomes boring, Tyler decides to take it up, and fight club becomes Project Mayhem.
If you've seen the movie, you need to read the book. While the movie mainly focuses on the fighting, the book goes into a lot more detail about project mayhem. The movie probably skips about a third of the book. Plus, the book explains the true definition of what a space monkey is, the formula for homemade napalm, and the real secret formula for Tyler's soap. Only after you've read the book and viewed the key scenes in the movie does the philosophy of Mr. Durden become clear. Even if you think you know the movie, read the book. The first rule of fight club may be that you don't talk about fight club, but you will after reading the book.
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