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Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Title Fight Club
Author Chuck Palahniuk
Publisher Owl Books
Year 1996
ISBN 0-8050-6297-1

Teaser/Reader Annotation After discovering that his consumer-driven lifestyle was empty and meaningless, a young man finds relief in Fight Club – the underground boxing matches organized by Tyler Durden – but there is more to this scene than meets the eye.

Plot Summary Fight Club follows the tale of an unnamed yuppie suffering from crippling insomnia and a spiraling sense of disconnection from the consumer-driven, commercialized world he lives in. After two years spent crashing a variety of support groups trying to find his own “happy place” and finally get some sleep he meets another faker, Marla, also searching for something in the groups and strikes up an unwanted connection with her. It is when he meets Tyler Durden, however, and together they the underground world of bare-knuckle fighting known as Fight Club that he finally begins to feel alive again. As membership grows and spreads across the nation, Tyler begins to use it to promote anti-consumerism and play dangerous, increasingly illegal pranks on major corporations. From there it is a spiral until the most devoted members are trained into an army called “Project Mayhem” with the goal to bring down modern civilization and bring about anarchy.

Critical Evaluation This novel is told from the point of view of an unnamed and often unreliable narrator. Often he will drift off on tangents unrelated to the current setting or point, guiding the reader further to the belief that he is not quite sane. It is not until the very last page that his true character is revealed in true Palahniuk fashion, which gives the book and its ending a haunting feel. Tyler Durden's ever present nihilism throughout the book provokes a sense of unease in the reader, which, combined with Marla's erraticism, complete the main character triangle of confusion, despair, and further drive the overriding sense of anarchy. The writing style, like the narrator, is erratic – sometimes following a logical order, occasionally drifting off into its own pattern. This book is darkly humorous, speaking to the angst of the teenage generation. It is definitely a page turner for those that can handle the dark tones and graphic violence.

About the Author Fight Club (1996) was the debut novel of American author Chuck Palahniuk. He was born February 21, 1962 in Pasco, Washington and has stayed in the Northwest, working and living in Vancouver, Washington as a novelist and freelance journalist. A graduate from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism, he initially moved to Portland to work as a journalist but ended up as a diesel mechanic until his writing career took off ten years later.

A little known fact about this author is that he is a member of what is known as the Cacophony Society – an organization started by surviving members of the San Francisco Suicide Club which dresses in costumes and plays pranks on society. Most notable of these takes place around Christmas when members dress up in Santa outfits and play pranks on shoppers in Portland. This group and its antics were inspiring points when designing Project Mayhem.

Primary Genre Transgressive Fiction

Secondary Genre Crime

Curriculum Ties English/Philosophy

Booktalking Ideas

1) One of the most notable points of the novel is the use of the unnamed narrator. How did this add or detract to your experience reading the book, and how will the final reveal affect a reread of the novel?

2) What are some of the ways the theme of masculinity as a society were explored throughout the book?

Interest Age 17+

Challenge Issues Violence, Dark Psychological Themes, Criminal Subject Matter

1) Become familiar with the book, the context and the lessons learned from the use of these issues.
2) Make it known it is a multi-award winning book
3) Know the themes and how they can be beneficial to teenage readers

Why is it included? Not only was this a favorite of me and all of my friends in high school, it is an award-winning novel and has been made into an extremely popular movie.