Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

So I’ve been recommended “Fight Club” by several different individuals. Even after seeing the movie, I thought I would give it a read to see the differences. And there are some, as is the tendency with books-to-movies.

I wonder if the themes of Fight Club the book and the movie are similar however. To be frank, the movie was very well done in keeping true to the premise of the book. The themes must, therefore, be similar and I think they are. What I think the overall theme of the book is must be the fragility of life and to “seize the day,” Carpe Diem. There is a scene in the book (also in the movie) where Tyler Durden pulls a man working at a convince store outside and puts a gun to his head. He asks him why he stopped going to college. He gives some excuse and Tyler threatens him that if he isn’t enrolled in school the next time he sees him, he will kill him. While harsh, the point does not go unnoticed: live life like it’s your last.

The other major theme revolves around the culture of men in our society. At the beginning of the book, the central character (unnamed in the book) is living in a high rise apartment building full of Ikea furniture (which becomes an obsession for him) and going to seminars for various diseases he doesn’t have. The book has an underlying theme that suggests that men have been emasculated in our society. We are now house-keepers, never taking a chance or experiencing something incredible but fine with the microcosm of the mundane. In the most revealing scene arguing for this point, the main character goes to a support group for men with testicular cancer and meets a man who literally has been emasculated due his cancer treatment and now has large fat deposits around his pectoral muscles (in the vernacular, “man-boobs”). This man later dies in efforts for “project mayhem,” but the idea is not lost: he seized the day and lived his life to the fullest, for something meaningful. But I’m getting ahead of myself: the main character meets a man named Tyler Durden. Tyler tells the main character one day to hit him as hard as he can. They start fighting and start a “club” called, “Fight Club.” This effort is a subtle ploy in the overarching message of the emasculation of men to regain their manhood. Not to say that fighting “makes” you a man per-sey, but rather it is the concept of the return to embodying what a man is.

I’m not sure if this is what the author intended, but I definitely see that as I looked back on this book. I’m not sure if I would recommend this book. It is full of interesting anecdotes that might be considered inappropriate. In this same way, there is a bit of coarse language that makes me apprehensive about a recommendation.

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