Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

There are so many ways to interpret this book that there are college courses that teach it. Its an unconventional story but it addresses very conventional modern problems. In the afterword, the author even says so, explaining that he saw a lot of books in the 90s, at the time of writing, that addressed womens issues and found that there were no such books for men.

The story begins with a normal man who works a normal office job. He struggles with insomnia so he goes to evening help groups for chronic diseases like cancer in order to help him feel emotion, which then helps him sleep. One day he comes home from a business trip to find that his apartment has exploded. Confused and depressed, he calls an acquaintance, Tyler Durden, he met on the flight for a place to stay. They become fast friends, and discover fighting as a way to again feel some emotion, which again helps with the insomnia.

Tyler is the complete opposite of the main character. Hes careless and fearless and says whatever he wants. In his two night jobs he pees in food and finds ways to slip pornography into childrens movies. Meanwhile, the main character feels like a slave to his boss in the office. He loathes the modern life in which he finds no purpose, only to keep making more money to buy more things.

Their fighting game gains followers and they make it into a weekly fight club which gains members rapidly despite strict rules of secrecy. A girl from the chronic disease groups starts to hang around Tyler, and it seems the main character is jealous, always stuck in the middle. The injuries incurred in fights start to interfere with real life.

In time, fight club multiplies and gains many locations so that its running all week. There are people all over town with facial injuries, but even when they meet they cant talk about it because its a closely kept secret. Its even spreading to new cities. The main character feels like its out of control and Tyler is taking it too far, but it seems that he cant stop it. Tyler takes it to the next level and begins Project Mayhem which is like an organized terror organization whose goal is to cause chaos and bring down the current order, which they describe as soul-sucking and pointless.

Things come to a head when Project Mayhem decides to bomb buildings and the main character tries to stop it. He finally discovers that Tyler is not his friend, but is him when he goes to sleep. Hes the part of himself which was repressed. So he fights Tyler and wins, finally discovering that he loves Marla and Marla loves him too, not Tyler. The book ends with him in a mental institution. You wonder if the whole thing was a hallucination, but the workers in the hospital call him Sir and promise him that Project Mayhem continues and awaits his return.

Its a good book worth reading, but I wonder how I would have felt about it without having seen the movie first. I have to say that despite being a very good book, it might have been overshadowed by the movie. It was an uncommonly good adaptation, and very faithful to the book as well.