Oct 21, 2012

Dean Picks a Fight

As we watched the second Presidential debate last Tuesday, Dean sweated the details and served up a fine all-American meal.  Any similarities to the banquet food in Fight Club were pure coincidence.  Yes, the pureed soup was suspect, but we were assured that Dean's pumpkin and summer squash were all natural and all from his very own garden.  We had no such concerns about our New York strip steaks, roasted endives, native rice, and apple crumble, as all were quite excellent.

The Book
We chose Fight Club from a list of titles that invoked the nihilists of the 19th century and the existentialists of the 20th century.  Some of us quibbled with the writing, but the content left no one wanting.  Pahlaniuk's short novel based on a short story (originally, only 7 pages) about disillusioned men who converge on late night bars to brawl in private is more than simply a mood piece about Yuppie angst.

We argued about the  writing and its inconsistent delivery (with Dean praising the narration and chapter inversions, and Doug and I picking at its consciously disjointed, anecdotal style) and some of us were put off by a world none of us could fully fathom (except Stan, who called Fight Club the "epitome" of fiction) .  However, all of us were struck by the atavism of Tyler Durden--schizoid or not--with Paul phoning his kudos in from Austin, TX.

The story's hard edge lost a few of us, though.  Tom, uncharacteristically, refused to read beyond 50 pages, and normally complaisant Jack excoriated the book's characters for their lack of empathy.   (I think that was sort of the point, Jack.)

Our votes were generally favorable, but the 4's from Jack and Doug limited Fight Club to no better than a 7 in our ratings book.

Next Up
We don't have either our host or a title selected for November/December, but that will be quickly remedied.  Stay tuned for more.


  1. Long ago I promised Andrew that if he posted, I would comment, as a way of offering him (positive?) reinforcement. As this is Andrew's first post in about half a year, here goes.

    Upon further thought, I think FIght Club is a thinly veiled Marxist rewrite. Think about it -- you have a dissatisfied lower class. led to revolution by a middle class, and working to overthrow the "rich". Of course, it suffers from the same error Marx made -- that the middle class would somehow throw their lot in with the poor. Same error Marx made -- the middle class like their status quo.

    Or, perhaps this is even a metaphor for the current presidential contest. You decide.

  2. Ok Paul, I like the positive reinforcement. Keep it coming. As for the Marxist interpretation you offer, I don't see it. Sure, there's a strong element of class struggle, with all those rootless young waiters despoiling rich people's meals.. But Pahlaniuk offers us no explanation other than a vision of society stripped of modernity and on the verge of being reclaimed by nature. Certainly there's nothing redistributionist going on. I think that the rhetoric of the presidential campaign has influenced your thinking. In particular, your belief inGlenn Beck has led you to see socialists under the bed, in the closet, and now in the books you read!

  3. I have no idea of WTF you guys are writing about. Does there always have to be a meaning in a piece of literature or can I just like or dislike the GD book.