Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)


Tyler Durden is not exactly the kind of person I’d ever want to meet. If I were given the opportunity to meet a real-life manifestation of this fictional character from the book Fight Club, I’d probably avoid him like the plague.

My reasons for this are simple. Besides being the ringleader of Fight Club—a secret society of men who find some sort of catharsis in beating each other up—he is also (spoiler alert) the mischievous alter ego of the nameless, insomniac narrator, whose condition causes him to conjure up Tyler’s existence.

Fight Club is a book that I never expected to pick up simply because I don’t like violence. If I even see a drop of blood, I avert my gaze; I close my eyes during graphic movie scenes, or I skip over paragraphs when encountering a particularly gruesome scene in a book.

But Fight Club is more than just senseless descriptions of blood and gore. The characters exemplify aspects of the human condition through their suffering. Take the narrator, for instance—his insomnia and dissatisfaction with his nine-to-five job cause him to attend various support groups (a notable example is the testicular cancer support group) that he has no affiliation with.

The narrator isn’t truly sick like the members of the support groups. He attends simply because he wants to connect with people. He wants to feel something besides the numbness induced by his insomnia.

It is this numbness that drives us to find meaning in the world, and that is why Fight Club was established—it tries to give its members a purpose to live. As once said by the narrator: “At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”

If you’ve ever wanted to get into transgressive fiction, I encourage you to start with Fight Club. Its raw characters, unreliable narrator, and dark plot are gripping. Moreover, the choppy writing style employed by author Chuck Palahniuk drew me further into the mystifying story.