“The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.”
I just want to start off by saying that this is by far the darkest book I have ever read, and ever want to read. Last year, I had chosen to read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and in the moment, I found that book to be horrifyingly dark at times. Raskolnikov, the main character, kills his landlady while in a feverish state. The novel follows every dark thought Raskolnikov suffers through, and the reader is given a very real sense of the rage, insanity, disorientation, paranoia, and guilt that Raskolnikov feels throughout the book. I had felt as if Raskolnikov was an unnerving main character, but he is just a normal man who happened to find himself in an unfortunate situation compared to the characters in Fight Club. By the end of Crime and Punishment, I found myself liking a few of the characters, and I was torn as to how I felt about Raskolnikov. I mean, he killed a guy, but he was clearly human. Raskolnikov was capable of guilt. Tyler Durden is far from human.
I can totally see why both the first and second rule of fight club is you don’t talk about it because everyone in fight club is in need of some serious therapy. Fight club was started by two guys in a parking lot. One was the main character, who’s name I don’t think was mentioned at all yet, and the other was Tyler. What started out with two guys requesting the other to hit him soon turned into a full-out club that met in bar basements every Sunday. Not a lot is mentioned about the main character, who sometimes just seems like a narrator when Tyler is around, but what I learned so far is that he suffers from insomnia, and he likes to go to cancer support group meetings to cry because that helps him sleep. Beating guys up and getting beaten up in fight club helps him sleep as well. The main character is not completely unlikeable, but all the likeability just comes from pity, because he did not seem to have a very good life so far. His life is a great example for a discussion of fate vs free will. His father left when he was six, but not before giving him some really awful advice about life, and in the time that his father was around, he and the main character’s mother never spoke. So the main character didn’t get a great upbringing or an inspirational parental figure. And most importantly, he didn’t witness a whole lot of love. The main character certainly did not ask for any of that, and it is really quite unfortunate that he got such a life. In that situation, it’s difficult to argue that he had any choice whatsoever in the kind of person he’d grow up to be. I doubt he even knows that he is not as mentally healthy as he could be. Who he grew up to be most definitely did not happen out of his own free will, but is fate what caused it?
Regarding the character Tyler, he almost seems unreal. He is the creepiest dude I have ever read about. From the moment I learned he likes making soap from fat he stores in his fridge I thought it wouldn’t be surprising if that was human fat from some poor guy he murdered. I wasn’t too far from the truth. Tyler, along with the gloomy, emotionless voice of the main character, makes for a truly chilling novel. Plot-wise, I suppose it is believable, and it does follow the plot of Crime and Punishment in a way, as it follows the making of a criminal. However, while Raskolnikov starts out as just a regular penniless student, Tyler was already doing some petty crime, and the main character was lying about being a cancer survivor.
The biggest recurring theme that I was able to recognize while reading this book was death. Both Tyler and this woman named Marla play around with their lives and often say things about the easiness of death. While shoving his gun into the main character’s mouth and waiting for a building to explode from a bomb he set, Tyler says, “‘This isn’t really death…We’ll be legend. We won’t grow old'” (11). And Marla, while supposedly on a lot of xanax, calls Tyler and says something about “The tunnel, the light leading her down the tunnel. The death experience was so cool, Marla wanted me to hear her describe it as she lifted out of her body and floated up.” Whether Marla was actually possibly dying from all the xanax, or just being overly dramatic isn’t entirely clear to me, but she, along with Tyler, both have little regard for their lives. I’m interested to find out what the reasons behind their dark thoughts are. Tyler had a similar upbringing to the main character, so it’s entirely likely that he is a sociopath at this point, but Marla is still a mystery.
All in all, this book is really dark in a creepy, wikipedia murder mystery article sort of way. Though I normally go for books with a lighter tone, it’s not impossible to read, and I would totally reccomend it for anyone that enjoys tv shows such as Criminal Minds.
Update: I searched up the movie Fight Club and the main character’s name is Edward Norton.