Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fight ClubFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

From an online dictionary:
1) sophomoric, adjective, pretentious or juvenile.
2) pretentious, adjective, attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.
3) juvenile, adjective, of, for, or relating to young people

"Sophomoric", "pretentious", and "juvenile" would be the three most fitting characterizations to appear on the back cover of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club (1996). It is a great book for adolescent boys, which category also includes allegedly grown-up men who have matured only in the sense of their numerical age. Adolescent boys crave one thing the most: being perceived as adults. They love talking about death - of which they have no concept whatsoever - because it is such a grown-up thing which allows them to pretend that they are mature and Know About Life. They are fascinated with guns, fighting, explosions, devastation, physical pain, spilled blood, rivers of blood, pools of blood... these are so grown-up! So mature!

The novel is an embodiment of pretentiousness not only in its topic: the author has chosen a histrionic writing style, full of exaggerations, text formatting affectations, and stupefyingly boring repetitions. The mantra "The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club" appears about one hundred times. The novel is Mr. Palahniuk's desperate cry to the world: "I am writing Something Very Interesting! I am writing about Death! I am writing about GUNS!!! I am writing about Cancer! I am writing about Pain! I am a real writer!"

For non-adolescent adults Fight Club is a worthless piece of junk. Of the roughly 400 books that I have reviewed here it is close to sharing this rare distinction with Jerzy Kosinski's Steps. I wasted several hours of my life, hours that I will never get back, to finish reading these two books in hope that maybe I will find an iota of some redeeming value. And while I had eventually found one moving passage in Kosinski's atrocity, I did not have any such luck here. Up to the very end I hoped that I would find at least one sentence to indicate that this is a big joke, a hoax to amuse the readers. But no, Mr. Palahniuk remains serious to the very end and thus ensures that his work is complete carp (with dyslexic apologies to the fish).

(The edition that I have read contains an Afterword. I have been unable to stop giggling reading Mr. Palahniuk's self-important and pompous proclamations about how great his book is. I burst out laughing when at some point he mentioned Citizen Kane.)

Zero stars.

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