Book Review - Fight Club

May 19 2010

Fight Club is one of my favorite movies, and it’s part of the short list (off the top of my head, that would be City of God, The Shawshank Redemption, Godfather I and II, Goodfellas, This is Spinal Tap, and Anchorman). Despite what some think, the movie is incredibly rewatchable for me. I had heard that the book is an even better story than the movie and finally got around to reading it.


Chuck Palahniuk definitely has a very unique writing style. It’s not quite stream of consciousness, but rather just a stunning display of randomness. In the movie, we hear the narrartor’s thoughts, and they tend to be a confusing jumble of statements (I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted to breathe smoke). The book is basically that, taken to the next level. Sometimes the quick read slows down as you try to make sense of the random thoughts from Palahniuk.

The focus of the story is also very different compared to the movie. The movie frames the true identity of Tyler Durden as a surprise and only very careful and astute viewers pick it up the first time through the movie. It also places a huge emphasis on the anarchy aspect in Project Mayhem, laying the rhetoric on thick (We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives).

The book, on the other hand, really focuses on the inner battle for the narrator. The reader should be able to realize about halfway through the book what Tyler Durden is. When the revelation is actually revealed in the book, it is more about how the narrator reacts to it rather than to surprise the reader. The anarchy aspect is also toned down in the book. Again, most of the focus is on the narrator and his thoughts; Tyler Durden actually has a small role in the book compared to the movie.

Other than differences, the two are pretty similar. The book is a very enjoyable read and highly recommended for anyone that liked the movie. It offers a different perspective from the movie and offers more than just the novelty of the plot. It also has a very clever ending (different from the movie) that I will not spoil.

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