I adore the way Palahniuk writes, it's like having someone back you into a corner and not knowing if they want to hit you or fuck you...the tension is immeasurable. His language speaks to the gut, the primal drives that undulate in all of us just beneath the surface of our civility. THIS is the authors magic, the ability to make us feel so much with stripped down and raw language. The words roll around in the head and make us THINK about our role in the modern consumer society: Who am I? What does this mean? Where am I going in this ocean of chaos?
A lot of people have indicated that this is a purely masculine novel, written from and for the sweaty depths of the male mind. I understand but disagree, I do not think that the content/context narrows a woman's ability to "get" the meaning. I internalized this novel as much as any male. I GOT the meaning of the aggression, I GOT the tension that one feels wriggling in the box society has fashioned for us.I GOT the nauseous feeling thinking about our existence in a world where passive aggressive interaction is the norm.
Rather than condoning violence for the aggression's sake, Palahniuk offers it as a route to enlightenment, a way to turn inward and fulfill oneself rather than allowing society to do it for us. The fighting is simply the initiation into our personal reality, one that has been subverted over time and space... on purpose...because it's easier than looking at the Self.
Chuck Palahniuk and Tom Robbins are the men of my generation that tapped into our need for a modern mythos and initiation rituals. They began providing it by creating new places for one to explore the world as well as reinvigorating ancient tales and applying them to modernity.