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Book Reviews by Esoteric Sensationalism

1996
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
www.wwnorton.com

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Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club
In the course of reviewing new DVD releases, I went through a phase of selecting my rentals randomly, rather than basing my choices on production qualities, popularity, director, stars or storyline. As a result, one day I overcame my strong aversion to Brad Pitt's smoochy face staring at me from the DVD cover and rented a film called Fight Club. I knew absolutely nothing about the film, including the fact that it was based on a novel. My impression was that the whole thing would be some macho punchup with some car chases and sex scenes thrown in. It didn't matter, because I was monitoring the culture and wanted to be Joe Sixpack for an evening. Surprisingly, the movie turned out to be a real mindbender, and only tangentially about fist-fights. The "fight club" is really just the context for a subversive critique of contemporary mainstream culture.

Recently, I was googling "esoteric sensationalism" to see who might be linking back to this site. I found that someone called Chuck Palahniuk had a resources page for his writing workshop which linked to the theory page at esoteric-sensationalism. After googling his name I found out about the Fight Club novel. Apparently, this novel is regarded by some to be "experimental fiction", so I picked up a copy the next time I was at a Chapters bookshop. Initially, the book seemed like straight fiction - I wasn't sure why it would be labeled "experimental". However, once I made an effort to take myself out of my somewhat jaded subjective perspective, I could see why many readers might find the writing style unconventional:

"Tyler asks, is this a problem for me?
I am Joe's Clenching Bowels.
No, I say, it's fine.
Put a gun to my head and paint the wall with my brains.
Just great, I say. Really."


The Brad Pitt-less edition of the novel that I bought has a great afterward section in which Chuck Palahniuk explains how the subject matter of the novel came together:

"Think of the movie Citizen Kane, and how the faceless, nameless newsreel reporters create the framework for telling the story from a lot of different sources. That's what I wanted to do."

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