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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Chuck Palahniuk

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14,150216146 (4.11)180
Title:Fight Club
Authors:Chuck Palahniuk
Info:An Owl Book / Henry Holt and Co. (1997), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1996)

  1. 30
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Sylak)
    Sylak: A man unwittingly becomes involved in a surreal underworld parallel to his own.
  2. 42
    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (sacredheartofthescen)
    sacredheartofthescen: Both about bored men in American society that found odd ways to fill their time and become what they want to be.
  3. 20
    Ultra Fuckers by Carlton Mellick III (tankexmortis)
    tankexmortis: Like Fight Club, Ultra Fuckers is anti-conformist and could be beloved by hipsters. Unlike Fight Club, Ultra Fuckers does not take itself very seriously. It's also much more weird.
  4. 20
    The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (arthurfrayn)
  5. 10
    The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman (FFortuna)
  6. 10
    Ghosted by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall (Liffey)
  7. 10
    Mr. Overby Is Falling by Nathan Tyree (catdog2)
    catdog2: similar themes
  8. 10
    Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Fight Club could be read as an updated rewriting of Steppenwolf, with Hermine replaced by Tyler Durden, and the dance hall transformed to the fight club. Maria becomes Marla, and the Magic Theater becomes Operation Mayhem.
  9. 10
    The Seven Madmen by Roberto Arlt (CarlosMcRey)
    CarlosMcRey: Like Palahniuk's Joe, Arlt's Remo Erdosain seeks salvation through depravity and self-destruction in the midst of an urban wasteland.
  10. 22
    Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (Ti99er)
  11. 57
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (keristars)
    keristars: Palahniuk says in an afterword that Fight Club was intended to be similar to the Great Gatsby. In a way, it really is - there's a similar mood and sort of feeling of despair at modern society, though the Great Gatsby was written and occurs seventy years before Fight Club. The relationships between the primary three characters in each novel are also similar.… (more)

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» See also 180 mentions

English (206)  Italian (5)  French (4)  Dutch (2)  All languages (217)
Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
1996 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
Felt way more pretentious than the film, which I loved. I dunno, it's probably not aimed at me, but I didn't feel like I got anything out of this that I didn't get out of watching the film. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Recently, one of my students let me borrow her copy of "Fight Club" and told me that I HAD to read it. So I tried. But I really couldn't get into the first few pages. I hadn't watched the movie "Fight Club" in a really long time, so I decided to go back to the movie. Watching the movie made me remember why I had loved the story so much when I first saw it. I jumped into the book and finished it within just a couple of days. This is not something I usually do, watch a movie first and then read the book. But for some reason, it was necessary for me to have Ed Norton and Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter in my head to truly get into the book. Now that I'm done, I can't wait to revisit the movie again to see how it compares to all the things I just experienced in the book. I won't spoil this review with any of my theories about Tyler or Marla or Bob or the nameless narrator (called Jack in the film), but I will say that I can't wait to talk Abigail (my student) about it on Monday! ( )
  CarinaRodrigues | Mar 10, 2016 |
The novel tells the story of an anonymous protagonist who hates his job and his lifestyle; he works as a Product Recall Specialist for an anonymous car company, responsible for organizing product recalls of defective models only if the corresponding cost-benefit analysis indicates that the recall-cost is less than the cost of out-of-court settlements paid to the relatives of the killed (paralleling the Ford Pinto's safety problems and recall). His dissatisfaction, combined with his frequent business trips through several time zones, is mentally taxing enough that he develops severe insomnia.

At his doctor's recommendation (who thinks insomnia is not a serious ailment), the narrator attends a support group for men suffering from testicular cancer, to "see what real suffering is like". He finds that crying and listening to the emotional problems of suffering people is an emotional release and is able to sleep again, but becomes dependent on attending these meetings. Although not dying like the others, he is never caught being a "tourist" until meeting Marla Singer, a woman who attends the support groups as well. She reflects the narrator's "tourism", reminding him that he is a faker and does not belong there. He begins to hate Marla for keeping him from crying, and, therefore, from sleeping. After a confrontation, they agree to attend separate support group meetings to avoid each other.

Shortly after this incident, his life changes radically on meeting Tyler Durden, a charismatic psychopath who works low-paying night jobs in order to perform deviant behaviour on the job. After his confrontation with Marla, an explosion destroys the narrator's condominium apartment; he asks Tyler if he can stay at his house. Tyler agrees, but asks for something in return: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can".[10] Their fight, in a bar's parking lot, attract local, socially disenchanted men; "Fight Club", a new form of psychological support group is born, mental therapy via bare-knuckle fighting, set to rules:

You don't talk about fight club.
You don't talk about fight club.[11]
When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the fight is over.[12]
Only two guys to a fight.
One fight at a time.
They fight without shirts or shoes.
The fights go on as long as they have to.
If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.
– Fight Club, pages 48–50[13]

Later in the book, the mechanic tells the narrator two new rules of the fight club. The first new rule is that nobody is the center of the fight club except for the two men fighting. The second new rule is that the fight club will always be free.

Meanwhile, Tyler rescues Marla from a suicide attempt, and the two initiate an affair that confounds the narrator. Throughout this affair, Marla is mostly unaware of the existence of fight club and completely unaware of Tyler and the narrator's interaction with one another.[14]

As the fight club's membership grows (and, unbeknownst to the narrator, spreads to other cities across the country), Tyler begins to use it to spread anti-consumerist ideas and recruits its members to participate in increasingly elaborate attacks on corporate America. This was originally the narrator's idea, but Tyler takes control from him. Tyler eventually gathers the most devoted fight club members (referred to as "space monkeys") and forms "Project Mayhem," a cult-like organization that trains itself as an army to bring down modern civilization. This organization, like the fight club, is controlled by a set of rules:

You don't ask questions.
You don't ask questions.
No excuses.
No lies.
You have to trust Tyler.
– Fight Club, pages 119, 122, 125[15]

The narrator starts off as a loyal participant in Project Mayhem, seeing it as the next step for the fight club. However, he becomes uncomfortable with the increasing destructiveness of their activities after it results in the death of Bob.

As the narrator endeavors to stop Tyler and his followers, he learns that he is Tyler;[16] Tyler is not a separate person, but a separate personality. As the narrator struggled with his hatred for his job and his consumerist lifestyle, his mind began to form a new personality that was able to escape from the problems of his normal life. The final straw came when he met Marla; Tyler was truly born as a distinct personality when the narrator's unconscious desire for Marla clashed with his conscious hatred for her. Having come to the surface, Tyler's personality has been slowly taking over the narrator's mind, which he planned to take over completely by making the narrator's real personality more like his. The narrator's bouts of insomnia had actually been Tyler's personality surfacing; Tyler would be active whenever the narrator was "sleeping." This allowed Tyler to manipulate the narrator into helping him create the fight club; Tyler learned recipes for creating explosives when he was in control and used this knowledge to blow up his own condo.

The narrator also learns that Tyler plans to blow up the Parker-Morris building (the fictional "tallest building in the world") in the downtown area of the city using homemade bombs created by Project Mayhem. The actual reason for the explosion is to destroy the nearby national museum. During the explosion, Tyler plans to die as a martyr for Project Mayhem, taking the narrator's life as well. Realizing this, the narrator sets out to stop Tyler, although Tyler is always thinking ahead of him. In his attempts to stop Tyler, he makes peace with Marla (who has always known the narrator as Tyler) and explains to her that he is not Tyler Durden. The narrator is eventually forced to confront Tyler on the roof of the building. The narrator is held captive at gunpoint by Tyler, forced to watch the destruction wrought on the museum by Project Mayhem. Marla comes to the roof with one of the support groups. Tyler vanishes, as “Tyler was his hallucination, not hers.”[17]

With Tyler gone, the narrator waits for the bomb to explode and kill him. However, the bomb malfunctions because Tyler mixed paraffin into the explosives, which the narrator says early in the book "has never, ever worked for me." Still alive and holding the gun that Tyler used to carry on him, the narrator decides to make the first decision that is truly his own: he puts the gun in his mouth and shoots himself. Some time later, he awakens in a hospital, believing that he is dead and has gone to heaven. The book ends with members of Project Mayhem who work at the institution telling the narrator that their plans still continue, and that they are expecting Tyler to come back.

[edit] Characters

[edit] Narrator
An employee of an unnamed car company specializing in recalls, he is extremely depressed and suffers from insomnia, which is later revealed to be connected to his dissociative identity disorder. The narrator of Fight Club sets a precedent for the protagonists of later novels by Palahniuk, especially in the case of male protagonists, as they often shared his anti-heroic and transgressive behavior. The narrator in Fight Club is unnamed throughout the novel. Some fans or readers call him "Joe" because of his constant use of the name in statements such as "I am Joe's boiling point". Contrary to popular belief, Tyler Durden is not the narrator's name, he is the narrator's alter ego. The quotes "I am Joe's (blank)" refer to the narrator's reading old Reader's Digest articles in which human organs write about themselves in the first person, with titles such as "I Am Joe's Liver". However, the film adaptation replaces "Joe" with "Jack". In the movie, it is worth noting that the Narrator is at one point called Cornelius by Bob during a brief moment where they see each other on the street; however, it is one of the fake names he gives at the support groups.

[edit] Tyler Durden
A charismatic but nihilistic neo-Luddite, radical environmentalist and anarcho-primitivist with a strong hatred for consumer culture. "Because of his nature,"[18] Tyler works night jobs where he causes problems for the companies; he also makes soap to supplement his income and create the ingredients for his bomb making which will be put to work later with his fight club. He is the co-founder of fight club (it was his idea to have the fight that led to it). He later launches Project Mayhem, from which he and the members make various attacks on consumerism. Tyler is blonde, as by the narrator's comment "in his everything-blonde way". He frequently describes (and acts on) his opposition to mass society, materialism, property, capitalism, and almost all technology and social order, indeed he vows to annihilate civilization itself. He describes his ideal world as a neo-paleolithic paradise, in post-apocalyptic urban ruins. The unhinged but magnetic Tyler could also be considered an antihero (especially since he and the narrator are technically the same person), although he becomes the antagonist of the novel later in the story. Few characters like Tyler have appeared in later novels by Palahniuk, though the character of Oyster from Lullaby shares many similarities.

[edit] Marla Singer
A woman whom the narrator meets during a support group. The narrator no longer receives the same release from the groups when he realizes Marla is faking her problems just like he is. After he leaves the groups, he meets her again when she meets Tyler and becomes his lover. She shares many of Tyler's thoughts on consumer culture. In later novels by Palahniuk in which the protagonist is male, a female character similar to Marla has also appeared. Marla and these other female characters have helped Palahniuk to add romantic themes into his novels.

[edit] Robert "Bob" Paulson
A man that the narrator meets at a support group for testicular cancer. A former bodybuilder, Bob lost his testicles to cancer caused by the steroids he used to bulk up his muscles and had to undergo testosterone injections; this resulted in his body increasing its estrogen, causing him to grow large "Bitch Tits" and develop a softer voice. Because of this, Bob is the only known member that is allowed to wear a shirt (breaking the sixth rule of Fight Club). The narrator befriends Bob and, after leaving the groups, meets him again in fight club. Bob's death later in the story while carrying out an assignment for Project Mayhem causes the narrator to turn against Tyler, because the members of Project Mayhem treat it as a trivial matter instead of a tragedy. When the narrator explains that the dead man had a name and was a real person, a member of Project Mayhem interprets this as an order to give all those who died names. The unnamed member begins chanting "his name is Robert Paulson", and this phrase becomes a mantra that the narrator encounters later on in the story multiple times. The movie differs from the book in that it only states that people in other fight clubs were chanting "His name is Robert Paulson" for the same reason as mentioned above. When the narrator goes to a fight club to shut it down for this reason, Tyler orders them to make him a "homework assignment".
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This is over rated. The movie is better. 3 stars is too much. ( )
  EzyReader | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 206 (next | show all)
A volatile, brilliantly creepy satire filled with esoteric tips for causing destruction, Fight Club marks Chuck Palahniuk's debut as a novelist. Ever wonder how to pollute a plumbing system with red dye, or inject an ATM machine with axle grease or vanilla pudding? Along with instructions for executing such quirky acts of urban terrorism, Fight Club offers diabolically sharp and funny writing.
This brilliant bit of nihilism succeeds where so many self-described transgressive novels do not: It's dangerous because it's so compelling.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews
Every generation frightens and unnerves its parents, and Palahniuk's first novel is gen X's most articulate assault yet on baby-boomer sensibilities. This is a dark and disturbing book that dials directly into youthful angst and will likely horrify the parents of teens and twentysomethings. It's also a powerful, and possibly brilliant, first novel.
added by Shortride | editBooklist, Thomas Gaughan
Caustic, outrageous, bleakly funny, violent and always unsettling, Palahniuk's utterly original creation will make even the most jaded reader sit up and take notice.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chuck Palahniukprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colby, JamesReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Carol Meader, who puts up with all my bad behavior.
First words
Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.
1. You don't talk about fight club.

2. You don't talk about fight club.

3. When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the fight is over.

4. Only two guys to a fight.

5. One fight at a time.

6. They fight without shirts or shoes.

7. The fights go on as long as they have to.

8. If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.

– Fight Club, pages 48–50

"Don't think of it as extinction. Think of it as downsizing."
It was that morning that Tyler Durden invented Project Mayhem.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the novel, not the film or screenplay.
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Many fight club rules.
Do not talk about fight club.
Wait... who is Tyler?
Where's Tyler Durden?
Every time I turn around
Seems he has just left.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393327345, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:47 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The rise of a terrorist organization, led by a waiter who enjoys spitting in people's soup. He starts a fighting club, where men bash each other, and the club quickly gains in popularity. It becomes the springboard for a movement devoted to destruction for destruction's sake.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Editions: 0393327345, 0393039765

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