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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1 Viewer)

strangedaze

Senior Member
So there are a few problems already creeping up in this review. The first, and undeniable, is the fact that I've already decided that Chuck Palahniuk is not a very good writer and that his strengths, namely his knowledge of sketchy underground things and his darkly comedic imagination, often get lost in the shuffle. For the former, while I like learning about new things, especially things that make me feel like a unibomber, too much reliance on fact-dropping and anarchistic tidbits can be nauseating; for the latter, I saw the movie first and so everything just seemed so...done by the time I got through the book. Keeping this in mind, let's see if Chuck could overcome the eightball...

Like a support group for men, Fight Club starts as semi-senseless violence, a spiritual way to get in touch with the masculine beast within that society has castrated. Watch as our loving narrator transcends the subject position of the social eunuch, with the help of the charismatic soap-making Tyler Durden, who takes him in when his house (and all the Ikea-special-order furniture) suddenly explodes.

For those who don't know the story, I'll keep it short and sweet. Tyler and the narrator become cultural terrorists, for lack of a better term, committing acts of vandalism that are at first juvenile but soon scream out of control. When Fight Club catches on and starts attracting more and more disillusioned men, our trusty narrator and Tyler begin a cult-like revolutionary movement, Project Mayhem, whose sole purpose seems to be reducing the world to utter anarchy in hopes of freeing its enslaved citizens. Toss into the mix Marla, a chain smoking almost-basketcase, and an army of 'space monkeys' dedicated to the annihilation of social order, and you have the makings of some darkly comedic satire.

So, do I think that Chuck pulled it off? Yes and no. Even though I found that his 'minimalist' writing style made me gag (and I love that he's adored so much that people have decided to justify his spastic and, dare I say poor writing style by calling it minimalist), the ideas and the storyline were so unique, right up my alley, that I'm willing to let it slide. When I think of minimalist writing, I think of George Orwell, someone who can still churn out magnificent sentences without being superfluous. Chuck's writing has no rhythm, it's jerky stop and go the whole way through. And the way he kept milking the same rhetorical devices, like constantly returning to the Fight Club rulebook or babbling on about facts that enlighten at first glance but then become tedious after the same tactic is recycled in every chapter. Yes, Chuck, we know you have access to the internet, but while you may impress the kids with your knowledge of the Anarchist's Cookbook, from a writing standpoint such knowledge can't keep your story afloat on its own.

And there it is. With all my whining about his writing and blah, I still think he does it in the end. There's something here that makes me turn to goo inside. Maybe I'm just being overly critical because so many others have already deified him. I mean, the shit's good brain food and I'm not going to embarrass myself by saying I could do better, but stylistically I find his stuff a notch lower than most of the authors I've read. And you know what? It's my right as a reader to say that, so I'm fucking saying it.

So now I'm going to pass my final judgment. Did I have a good time reading it? Yes. Did the story appeal to me? Yes. Could the writing have been better? Yes. Did it *really* detract from my reading? Only somewhat.

I'm giving Fight Club a 7/10, meaning I had fun with it but it fell short of my possibly lofty expectations. Well, maybe it's closer to 6.5, but it's the type of book I'd give the benefit of the doubt. Lynch me if you'd like.

:5stars: :2stars:
 

semtecks

Senior Member
Only seven? This is Fight Club, it deserves more respect than that, dammit!. Seriousley though, the writing style is original and not everyones cup of tea, but the subject matter is right on the mark. Palahnuick tapped into a vein of human fury over the castration of man and the ever onwards march of capitalism. There's a reason this book has reached so many people whether in book or movie . . . because . . . it . . . is . . . excellant.

About the writing style, I read The Curious Incident Of the Dog After Midnight and I found it very simialar.
 

Avarice

Senior Member
the curious incident of the dog in the night is about an autistic boy telling the story, the author meant to have it like that, I hope. And I agree with strangedaze, to call writing minimalist is rubbish, arent you meant to write alot? I tried to read pieces from his website but it kept going and stopping and made me want to die. I like his ideas, I think they're neo but hes just not that good a writer.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
Sem, I'm not going to touch on the comparison, and I know that the writing is not everyone's cup of tea, but the point is it's not MY cup of tea, and I'm the only one that matters when I read a novel. Like I said, I think that the story itself overcomes what I consider to be the author's gimpy writing, so I agree with pretty much everything you've said. It's a seven because his writing and the way that the piece was presented took away from MY overall enjoyment of it. If only we could somehow transport Chuck's imagination into the mind of another more capable writer (no names). But that's all wishful thinking.

Avarice, yeah, I see where you're going with the autistic thing, but I'm lazy and don't want to be politically incorrect by making sweeping statements about the minds of autistic people just to take a jab at Chuck. Not saying that you are or anything, just musing. Minimalist writing seems like a wonderful moniker for prose that's flat, but it's ultimately meaningless to me. Your last two sentences pretty much sum up how I feel about him as a writer, especially his stop/go style and his sweet ass ideas and poor delivery.
 

semtecks

Senior Member
The writing style didn't throw me at all. What threw me was the hard to place tense. In the beginning they're at the top of the parker morris building, jack has tyler's gun in his mouth and we're in past tense. Then we go back an unknowable amount of time and we're still in past tense and we stay in past tense all the way through to when we're back in the parker morris building. Oh yeah, and jack's dialogue is never given speech bubbles.

Av, yeah I know it's about an autistic boy. I did read the book. I'm talking about sentence structure. Guts is hailed by some people as one of the greatest short stories of our time.

to call writing minimalist is rubbish, arent you meant to write alot?

Not really, no. It's the personal choice of each author. There is no rule that says: "You must write a lot, soldier! Each sentence must me the size of an overweight Texan with a years suplly of cheeseburgers!"

I have to disagree with both of you. Because when I'm reading a novel I'm the only one that matters also.
 

SxThorntonxS

Senior Member
I think part of what ruined Fight Club for me was that I had seen the movie first. The best book that i have read by him is Survivor. I definately say give that book a read. And as far as minimalist writing, well not everyone loves flowery descriptions. Sorry if I dont like hear about how the wind blew for a paragraph. Or three pages of describing what everyones wearing etc (American Pyscho). I know these things serve purpose, but I could do without a lot of it.
 

gohn67

Senior Member
Yes, Surivor was great as was Invisible Monsters. I also agree that I think seeing the movie ruined the book for me. Movie was actually a lot better.

Or three pages of describing what everyones wearing etc (American Pyscho).
What!? That's one of the best parts of the book so far (I'm only half way through). It's pretty funny too. And it also serves to build his character and the culture of the people around him. So I do think it serves a purpose. It's gets to the point of absurdity and I think that is the point in itself.
 

Cady

Senior Member
Would Palahniuks style fall under semi-stream-of-consiousness? Thats what it reminds me of. A more structured form of course, but all the same, the kind of voice we all hear inside our own heads. Rambling on and on, making up our own jokes...ya know?
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
I haven't read anything by Palahniuk yet, but I do know that minimalist writing is far from bad... Anyone ever heard of Kurt Vonnegut? One of the best American writers ever. Period.
 

SxThorntonxS

Senior Member
It was actually my liking of Kurt that got me interested in Chuck, due to comparisons. While I refuse to say which i prefer, i love them both
 
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