(if you have somehow managed to avoid this story since the book release in 1996 and the movie in 1999)
Someone tells us their life story. They are boring, bland, and unfulfilled. They are an insomniac, but their life is about to take a turn for the best and the worst. The Narrator has issues sleeping, blurred lines between reality and his brain resting for a few minutes. His doctor tells him to go to a support group to see what real issues look like. Real issues, life and death issues, not insomnia. At one of these meetings, the narrator finds the cure to his insomnia: the release that a support group offers. He comes, he listens, he meditates, they share, they cry, he can sleep. He seems to have the perfect little arrangement, until one day Marla Singer arrives, completely ruining his perfect little antidote to the sleepless nights he has been suffering. Marla appears at all of his support groups, stripping him of his ability to cry, to exhaust and free himself, to purchase his sleep… they have got to split up the support groups so that he can sleep again.
Travelling around the country as a product recall specialist for a car company, the Narrator suffers from severe jet lag, the guilty party for the insomnia he suffers. On a business trip he meets Tyler Durden, a man with a free soul, a whole new outlook on life, not limited or set back by anything. He is enigmatic and charming. Returning home, the Narrator learns that his condominium has blown up, and not having anyone to call, he calls Tyler, asking him if he can stay there. Having a few drinks at the bar, the Narrator and Tyler get into a fight, and both feel gratified by the end of it. Moving in together, the two eventually form a fight club, where other men meet with them for fights, somewhere they can all earn their release. The club has a specific set of rules.
Marla eventually attempts to contact the Narrator when she notices that he has not been attending any of his support groups, and gets Tyler to save her instead when she threatens to have overdosed on Xanax. Her and Tyler enter into a sexual relationship, truly peeving the Narrator. He wants Tyler, Marla wants Tyler, he wants Marla gone. It seems that she will not go. Later, though, the Narrator begins to question whether Tyler and Marla aren’t the same person, seeing as they are never seen together. Tyler and the Narrator run their fight club, which is rapidly blossoming and branching out, becoming something so big and vast they are losing track of it. They are making soap from their home and selling it to the rich, and later Tyler turns their house into the home base for Project Mayhem, a little thing he has put together for members of fight club. This, too, is governed by its own unique set of rules. Tyler is spreading his anti-consumerist ideas, creating a following, all the meanwhile moving further and further away from the Narrator, who has slipped back into extreme states of insomnia, suffering heavily from it at work. Project Mayhem is becoming increasingly destructive, and the Narrator is not comfortable with that, but is also dealing with the fact that he cannot get in touch with Tyler anymore, who seems to have bigger plans at hand.
What is going on with fight club? Do Tyler and the Narrator have any power of what happens with fight club anymore? When will Project Mayhem come to a close? How far can it be pushed until there isn’t any control anymore? Will the Narrator find Tyler? What is the deal between Tyler and Marla? Will the Narrator be able to rest again sometime soon?
This was definitely a solid book, well written and well presented. It was a different read, a trip into someone else’s mind. It was definitely well written and captivating from the get go. Naturally, there are differences from the movie (I know that many will ask if the comparison is not put up here), but I must say that the book was fantastic and the movie was a simply phenomenal adaption of it, differences and all (though they certainly weren’t overly massive or deal breakers). The narrator referring to all the fight club members as space monkeys later on amused me, and reading what the narrator had to say about his life and his perceptions was interesting. Tyler Durden was a cool character, though he was certainly not all together upstairs. Not because he was necessarily loopy or anything like that, but just because he was a little out of touch with reality. The narrator was a sad character, being walked on by other people and alright with it, though I must also point out that he was also quite a douche. Then there is the issue of Marla, who is definitely cooked in the head, no two ways about it. The way that the narrator treats her is awful, though at the same time we understand his childish ways and why he does what he does. Knowing the big reveal changed my perception of the big reveal in the book, though I liked the execution of the narrator starting to wonder if Tyler and Marla were the same people, and later basically being told point blank he was Tyler Durden, but at the same time not really buying into that. I thought the reveal was handled a little better in the movie, it really hits you deeply and out of nowhere, whereas all the time in the book it is hinted at. Palahniuk is a pretty damn good writer, though this is the only book I have read, it has certainly inspired me to check out some of his other work.