Bill Kerwin's Reviews > Fight Club

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
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Apr 04, 2008

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Read in April, 2008


I wondered whether this book would seem self-absorbed and shallow in our post-9/11 world, but instead I found it prophetic. Throughout the materialism and political correctness of the 1990's and Tyler Durden's response to it, you can sense how all that repressed mama's boy machismo is just hoping and praying for something big and fiery and nasty that would blow our little precious world apart. Well, with 9/11 and the Iraq war, we sure got it. So . . . are all you boys satisfied now?

Sure, this book has its flaws. The rhetorical use of repetition, although effective at first, eventually becomes little more than a stylistic tic. Also, for such a hard-edged book, it gets surprisingly (and disappointingly) sentimental at the end.

Still . . . "Fight Club" is wickedly funny, memorably aphoristic and prophetic. And it holds up well after fifteen years.
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02/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Hmm, since I only know the film, I might pick up the book one day. Although I don't know if you have to read the book after watching the movie at all.


Mark There is a great commentary track on the Fight Club DVD with both Palahniuk and the scriptwriter, Jim Uhls. Palahniuk pays him the ultimate complement, by saying that the script improved on the book. I would have to agree with that.


Zardoz "Fight Club" is one of those rare instances where the movie was better than the book!


Bill  Kerwin Zardoz wrote: ""Fight Club" is one of those rare instances where the movie was better than the book!"

Not to take anything away from Uhls, but Fincher deserves the lion's share of credit. Nobody knows how to mix satire on media and commercialism with noir atmosphere and bind it all together with the subtlest irony.

I saw "Gone Girl" and loved it. Now that I've watched Fincher's version, I feel I don't even have to read the book.


Eduardo Corona Bill I thought your review of Fight Club was pretty black and white. While you do mention “Throughout the materialism and political correctness of the 1990's and Tyler Durden's response to it, you can sense how all that repressed mama's boy machismo is just hoping and praying for something big and fiery and nasty that would blow our little precious world apart.” I don’t see how you make the connection between Tyler Durden trying to act out and show an act of violence because he is a momma’s boy. I thought that Tyler Durden was a persona of the main character in the book that did basically everything that the main character could not do.


message 6: by Bill (last edited Feb 23, 2015 07:00AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bill  Kerwin I think you misunderstood me. The repressed mama's boy machismo I referred to was American society's. not Durden's, and my point was the Durden persona embodies the repressed, frustrated energy of a materialist society just waiting to break forth in some great act of violence, such as our invasion of Iraq, and that Fight Club was prophetic in the way it expressed this. Durden is an embodiment of such energy.


Eric Matheny Think about the pre-9/11 context: we are the middle children of history. We have no Great War - our great war is a spiritual war. And we have no Great Depression. Our great depression is our lives.

9/11 became the event for our generation. Our own version of D-day or the Kennedy Assassination. That "I'll always remember where I was" moment that, up until then, we didn't have.

This book nails down the lack of generational purpose many of us felt, even as teenagers, in the 1990s.


Bill  Kerwin Eric wrote: "Think about the pre-9/11 context: we are the middle children of history. We have no Great War - our great war is a spiritual war. And we have no Great Depression. Our great depression is our lives...."

Well said! The middle children of history. I like that.


message 9: by Ronald (new)

Ronald I thought the movie Fight Club was entertaining.


message 10: by W.T. (new) - rated it 5 stars

W.T. Lee I think there's a substantial difference between 9/11 and the uninhabited fictional towers in Fight Club. Gradation.


Bill  Kerwin W.T. wrote: "I think there's a substantial difference between 9/11 and the uninhabited fictional towers in Fight Club. Gradation."

Sure. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was speaking instead about a male yearning for cataclysmic violence that would transform and simplify our alienated, materialistic society--a yearning I believe the book embodies. And 9/11 was thr fulfillment of that yearning. In spades.


Forrest This book was one of the greatest reading disappointments I've ever experienced. So much hype, such a letdown.


David Sarkies I agree with Forrest, though I have to admit that the film has tainted my perception of it.


message 14: by 7jane (new)

7jane I found that the book was pretty much like the film, so watching the film would be enough *shrug* Average anyway.


Andrew Heritage I've found that it's more derived from a sort of Kierkegaardian despair to be oneself in a capitalist society, critiquing the materialism we all suffer from. 9/11 isn't the great event of our generation, as they weren't entirely wrong for hating us so much, where there were clear cut evils and wrongs in the first two world wars.


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