It’s time once again for another update in my Year of Living (Actually Reading) Fiction. Kicking off the second-half of my year was Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres and next I took on Chuck Palahniuk’s (now) famous first novel Fight Club. Much has been written about this book and its film adaptation so I’ll skip much discussion about its plot or the crazy twist at the end. First I want to hit on the two major lessons on writing I have garnered from reading this amazing book.
Overall, I found this book to be a stunning triumph, and has definitely gotten me interested in more of Palahniuk’s work. Having seen David Fincher’s decent film version in my college years (a viewing that challenged my very perceptions of storytelling back in those days), I still wish I had read the book first. I decided to break my general rule of NOT watching the movie of any of the books I read this year and sit through the Brad Pitt/Edward Norton picture again before writing this, and while Fincher does stuff on-screen that makes the novel come alive in unique ways (splicing images of Pitt’s Durden into the middle of scenes), it still pales in comparison to the raw urgency and devastating prose of the work itself.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, but am not sure I would recommend it to everyone. Just as not everyone would like to romp through a visceral, intense 700-page Stephen King novel (as I would), not everyone might enjoy reading a book about grown-up Gen X-ers creating underground clubs which then turn into a domestic terrorist organization. That being said, any writer worth their salt should be open to books not among their “wheelhouse,” so to speak, so I don’t think I am steering you wrong when I say anyone can get something out of this novel - it is that unique.
Ok, looking ahead I have a few more books to tackle in the first year of this experiment, starting with Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I will also be doing a some more media and process posts in the next few months, as well as more updates on my pursuit of an agent. Thanks for reading!
John Abraham is a published author and freelance journalist who lives in the Twin Cities with his wife Mary and their cats. He is writing a speculative dystopian novel and is seeking representation and a publisher.