Book Review: FIGHT CLUB, by Chuck Palahniuk

I refused to see the movie until I'd read the book (yes, I'm one of those). When I did finally read FIGHT CLUB, though, I built a nice fire, made some coffee, curled up on the couch and read the whole thing in a single day--a single weird, Palahniuk-infested day, but there you go.

Chuck Palahniuk is one odd fellow. Nobody can suck me into a book like he can (Lullaby went the same way--in an afternoon), but few authors make me feel so conflicted about being thoroughly consumed--honestly, the man is strange. Beyond strange. I can never decide if I like the book, or the characters, or the plot--mostly I'm just disturbed, which can be an interesting ride in itself. The entire time I'm reading one of his novels, I keep asking "what the hell..."--but I'm oddly drawn to Palahniuk. He's addictive.

At any rate, FIGHT CLUB is a much better book than movie, I thought, though the movie did a nice job preserving the feel of the book. But that damn Brad Pitt. Even though I'd never seen the movie, I kept picturing him as Tyler Durden, which is precisely why I like to read books first--so I don't picture the stupid actors while I'm reading.

My copy came complete with this marvellous introduction (my brother scrounged up a non-movie-cover edition for me as a Christmas gift, and gave it to me with a 2'-high plastic owl decoy that I named Boris and set on our front porch to scare off guests) by Palahniuk himself, that provides a bit of interesting background on the novel and the cult-phenomenon that is FIGHT CLUB. So. If you have that copy, it's an introduction worth reading. He discusses the origins of the book (started as a short story, go figure, written while Palahniuk was at work), as well as his thoughts on the movie and what it's like to write something that's been pretty well eclipsed by the movie it inspired. When a kid starts quoting FIGHT CLUB at Palahniuk, and Palahniuk calls him on it ("Hey. I wrote that book."), the kids answers, "...that was a book?"

Just so I don't leave you with a review that hardly mentions the actual novel (why bother summarizing? We all know what it's about), I'll say that the best scene, in the whole book, was the IKEA catalogue scene. I read that one over and over, and then read it out loud to Mitch when he came home--and then read it out loud to my dad, and to my brother. I mean, it's cool in the movie when they're walking through the catalogue and Edward Norton's narrating and all, but...it's just better in the book. Read it.

Especially if you've only seen the movie.

Or if you haven't seen the movie, but would like to.

Or for any reason, really. Just read the book.


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