Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk

I was warned away from this book by both Rachel ("the movie was better") and Elvis ("the book is exactly the same as the movie except without Brad Pitt's muscles or the cool Pixies soundtrack") but I've wanted to read it ever since I heard it existed. (I'm not sure how long it's been since I saw the movie--years, anyway--and back then I hadn't realized it was first a book. It's kind of sad, how often that happens.)

When Hud saw what I was reading, he said, "You're reading Fight Club? That just doesn't seem like the kind of movie anyone would want to read. It would be like reading Die Hard." I disagree. There's much more to Fight Club than fighting. And, come to find out, Hud hasn't seen the movie. (How is that possible?) He didn't even know the Big Thing. All he knew was that there was something called Project Mayhem, there were fights, and Brad Pitt wore fur.

I've seen the movie, so I already knew all about the Big Thing. And now Hud knows too, because I told him. (Oops.) But that was just about the only thing I remembered--that, the first rule of Fight Club, and the scene with the big yellow dishwashing glove. (The important parts, right?) I mean, here's how bad my memory is: I couldn't remember what the movie had to do with soap.

It's been long enough since I've seen the movie that I thought the book was really, really good. If you've seen the movie often enough that you can quote every line, or if you just watched it last week, I will warn you away from the book along with Rachel and Elvis. You won't find any extra tidbits in the book that you haven't already learned from the movie. But if it's been close to a decade since you watched it, or if your memory isn't any better than mine, I say go for it and read the book. If you loved the movie but don't remember it very well, you'll love the book too. Even without Brad Pitt's muscles (because, see, you can imagine them).

Reading the book made me want to see the movie again. In fact, even though I heart the book, I think Rachel and Elvis were right about the movie being superior. Whenever I get a craving for Fight Club in the future, I'll probably reach for the movie instead of the book.

What about someone who has neither read the book nor seen the movie and has managed to avoid hearing about the Big Thing? If such a person exists, should they read Fight Club or watch it? To me, the most important factor in this choice is the impact of the Big Thing. I want to say it seemed like a bigger surprise in the movie, although that's probably because I knew it and expected it by the time I read the book. Here's my call: either 1) watch the movie only, 2) watch the movie now and read the book after a few years, or 3) read the book and then watch the movie. Notice that the common denominator is watching the movie . . .


Jessica said...

haha - I have seen the film (after Chris begged me to) and I thought it was ok, so er no I won't be reading the book after everyone has said the movie is way better.

Amanda said...

I love this movie, it was one of a very few "twist" movies that I DID NOT see coming.
Yeah, I knew Bruce Willis was dead ten minutes in... and my husband will never forgive me for ruining the surprise.
I can and do quote may lines from it, so I don't know if I need to read the book, I must be category 1.
I did read Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk which I really couldn't get into (although it also had an interesting twist) and watched the movie Choke which again was okay. Maybe Fight Club was just an anomaly for me.

Marce said...

I totally agree with you. The movie is fantastic. I'm like you knew I loved the movie but didn't remember the details so went for it.

It was good but no way an impact like the movie.

Perfect review, I read this one this year also.

Rachel said...

I read this right after I watched the movie (cause I loved it so much!) so maybe that is why I didn't really like it.. expectations crushed and all that.

One of the very few cases where the movie is better than the novel though! :)

All of Chuck's books are an acquired taste though.. you kind of need to be in the right mood for them. This is definitely not his best. Yet it is the one they made into a movie.. which is kind of funny.

I am glad you enjoyed this though, even if the movie is better ;)

She said...

I decided to not read the book because I had seen the movie about a million times and had much the same input from people about the book v. movie debate. Your review has made me want to pick it up though. I liked two of his other books, Survivor and Invisible Monsters, so maybe it's time to pick up another of his.

Trisha said...

I love this movie and even teach it in my Intro to Film course - but I have never read the book. I really really should though!

Kathy said...

Jess--just ok? Did you miss the part(s) where you get to see Brad's muscles? ;)

Mandy--your sixth sense must be better than mine. Of course my first thought was that BW was dead, but I'm gullible enough that when he showed up in the next scene I just thought, Oh, I guess he survived. And I gotta say I think I'm on Eric's side for this one . . . ;)

Marce--I enjoyed your post about this book! Do you think you would ever read it again?

Rachel--that's exactly what happened to Elvis. I think he just read it too soon after watching the movie. That, and he expected that "something more" the book usually gives you (except in this case). It's good to know this isn't Chuck's best work--if I enjoyed what wasn't his best, I'm sure to like some of his other stuff! Also--from what Mandy said, I guess Choke was made into a movie too.

She--if you do read it, you'll have to let me know if you enjoy it, or if you feel like you know the movie too well to enjoy the book much!

Trisha--You teach an Intro to Film course?! That is cool! Wish I could audit! :)

Charley said...

My reaction to this book was similar to yours. I read the book after seeing the movie, and while I enjoyed both, the book didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. I've read one other Palahniuk book - Lullaby - and certain scenes from that one will stay with me for years to come.

Kathy said...

Hmmm, that could be good or bad . . . are you glad these scenes have stuck with you, or were they just horrifying? Trying to decide if I should read any more Palahniuk! :)

Lyd-ee-ah said...

I am glad that you read this. It is one of my favorites by him, but I love his books. lol.

Kathy said...

I'm glad I read it too! Do you have a preference between the book and the movie? Did you watch the movie or read the book first?