Thursday, March 1, 2007

"Fight Club" By Chuck Palaniuk

A contemporary masterpiece. An underground fight club goes from a way for frustrated men to vent their rage over the variety of emasculations they think they've suffered and becomes a stealthy, destructive movement sworn to topple a false and dehumanized consumer culture. In the thick of the anarchism is the mysterious Tyler Durden, who's
charismatic brand of evangelical destruction alternately attracts and repels. Clearly , he is someone you cannot take your eyes off of as he exhorts his troops to
pull the rug from under the engines of Industry. Chuck Palaniuk's satire is vicious, masterful, a vision of a bloated culture set on the cutting board , inspecting with a dissecting eye.

This is the perfect novel of terrorism, and Palaniuk extends the violence aesthetic of Mailer's "White Negro" and the various therapies encouraging the psychically wounded to vent until they heal or when the things that are killing them disappears. In both instances, the aim is to free the body from the sterile consumerism its shackled to and to feel alive, and advocates of this sort of expulsion would be quick to add that the violence assumed in their rants and manifestos is metaphorical only; poetry to make a point. Paulaniuk , though, is having none of this grandstanding equivocation on the point; a male either feels that he's had his manhood commoditized and removed from his being, or he does not, and he's willing to take direct action against the symbols and systems of oppression, or there are complacent with a status quo and, hence, part of the problem.

The genius of the novel is the author's decision to take the talk of mortal liberation at face value and to follow the logic. Aggrieved males attacking each other , fighting as hard as they can, blows to the body, the head, the groin meant to help them feel something real and independent of programmed responses and advertised results, and in achieving a bond and formed a community, there becomes the united purpose of bringing down the towers of business, the arrogance of faceless, soulless capitalism. Palaniuk's novel is fiction and it is satire, but it is also potent social criticism and disturbingly presents a mindset of a collective for whom acts of grandscale violence, of terrorism are the only sane action possible because they are the only things one can do that means anything. Fight Club is a rousing, disturbing read.


  1. A great read that was not even ruined by its film adaptation. Your review got me thinking how Fight Club contrasts with Crime and Punishment. In Fight Club, the main character seeks to break the rules of society and, in his own way, succeeds. In Crime and Punishment, the main character seeks to break those same rules and fails. He must not only face the consequences determined by society, but must face his own punishment for failing at his task.

  2. Anonymous2:01 PM PST

    Greg King, I was just wondering, in what way do you meen that the main character in fight club succeeds? You meen because the buildings collaps in the end..? yes maybe, and it´s true that fight club in contrast to crime and punishment do not have the same christian message of humleness...or has it not? I would say that the similarities are more striking than the differences.


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