There are only about 20+ posts on my blog and I feel as though that 70% of them include the words Fight Club. Most of them mention my love for it, or how great it was for me, or just how much I consider it to be a literary masterpiece. The things is, for a very long time I haven’t been able to properly articulate why and how it affected me. I say it’s Fight Club, but it’s a lot more than that.
I remember when the film premiered in the late 90s, when it came to HBO and all I understood was that there was some fighting and the name was carved into pink soap. This was before I was deeply in love with Brad Pitt and had to see all his films. This was also the time that my idea of a great film to occupy me was Spice World or Rugrats Go To Paris. I still had youth left in me, and with that in mind, I didn’t honestly have the attention span or intelligence for this movie.
In a way, I still don’t.
It was the summer after graduation. I’d seen the film twice by then, utterly in a trance by the cast, the filming, the plot, the lighting, the everything. Okay, I lied. I watched it as many times as I could, studying it and finding all the hidden Tylers and burn spots from the cigarette smoke of the film slicer (what I’ve accepted to be CGI add ins but that’s no fun to say). I’d drowned myself in the trivia surrounding it and felt like one of those people, and was damn proud of it. Finally I decided that I should become that other kind of person, the one who reads the book and finds a comparison I wish they added or was glad they honored it just right.
The book grabbed me more, of course, sinking me into the pages word by word and that’s when I realized that I didn’t just love the story but I loved Chuck. Chuck Palahnuik, the author of Fight Club and many other books that I love, wrote Fight Club in 13 days. Thirteen. The most I’ve managed to do in 13 days is read another one of his novels.i loved the way the story unfolded. Each and every character had me wrapped around their fingers as if I knew them all personally. It was just his writing that did it all!
I love Chuck because if you haven’t read any of his work, when you do, you’ll always remember him. It’s his style that got me; it’s forward, blunt, right in your face talking to you with cigarette on it’s breath and desperation to get the story out. It’s haphazard, but to me it’s just the right amount of punching you in the mouth and forcing but begging you to listen that keeps me glued. Call me a masochist, but I fell in love with the metaphorical chokehold he had me by.
It wasn’t all Chuck. The story really did change me. If you haven’t read or watched Fight Club, I can’t exactly summarize it all without giving it away.
I can tell you how it drew me in. I can recall in fine detail why I, a girl exiting from high school and didn’t see myself taking part in higher learning, saw myself as a middle class white man who didn’t even know who he was. I can’t caught up in the rat race of consumerism and corporate jobs and offices, but I was also scared shitless I was going to be.
I was Jack’s Racing Heart.
Tyler Durden for me, and Jack, was an awakening. “You are not your khakis,” were words that I needed when I went through the waves and crashes of high schools dressed in khakis and trying to fulfill the role of what other people wanted me to be. Tyler disrupted my idea of being everything for everyone else. He drew commotion to the idea that I would go to college, work at my stupid job for however long, and die – unhappy, unfulfilled, but extremely proud of all that I could afford to buy to fill the space around me.
The comparison of men and fathers was the same I felt about women and mothers. I didn’t lack a women figure in my life, but I lacked my actual mother to teach me womanhood as she still experienced it. I forever felt as though I would be a little girl seeking approval and guidance for any woman who was better at being a mother than my own.
I lived through these men an experience I felt as though I needed to grow.
At some point it all comes crashing down. Jack thought it was when he met Marla Singer that she was there to disrupt his growth as a man and finding hinself. Sadly, what was once reclaiming manhood and masculinity turned into abandonment. Tyler, once seen as the hero, the father, the God in his life, was no better than the father who left Jack. It takes Jack shooting himself in the mouth to realize how much he had to break away from it all. When his cheek is hot from the bullet, he holds hands with Marla to hold on to something that is real, something that he can proudly say he got in return from the life he began to live.
Tyler wasn’t all wrong, though. We have to start over sometimes. In the moment of chaos and madness and destruction is truly when we find ourselves. He was also right about none of us ever being fucking special snowflakes.
Tyler knew how to get me, then he knew how to ruin me, like he ruined Jack. He ruined me because I believed it all like some cult fanatic and was ready to burn the world down for him and his righteousness, his blind purpose of reclaiming yourself through an even more toxic version of masculinity than before. I was sold on the dream of having someone never abandoning me again and teaching me all I needed to know to find myself. He was a cult leader, and I and Jack fell for it like blind fools.
Thankfully for me I was done reading the book and didn’t have to resort to shooting myself to be free. Nonetheless though, I was changed.
Needless to say I bought every Chuck Palahnuik book I could get. I was addicted to what he was selling me but not as just Tyler, but as a writer.
I was reborn as a reader and a writer. I read the most amazing book of my life and not only did it change how I read books but how I lived life after. Every day for seven entire years I thought back to this book and wanted to achieve that rush in my own writing. All I’ve ever wanted to do is metaphorically have a chokehold on someone as they absorbed my story with glee. I wanted to and still want to be someone’s Chuck Palahnuik, and subsequently their Tyler Durden.
In this world of so many people making a difference, I just wanted to leave a mark. Tyler and Chuck left a mark on me. I felt a little less alive before this night, binge reading a book and crying because it was just everything I ever needed. Fight Club made men out of boys and everyone ready to die with scars. For me, Fight Club brought me to life, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.