Book vs Film: Fight Club

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I know, I know. The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. Shut up.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t think I’m a big Palahniuk fan. Not because of his twisted sense of humour or his occasionally offensive subject matter. I’ve just found that his books seem to fall apart towards the end, or maybe I lose interest in the characters. Either way, at some point around the middle of his books I find myself flipping ahead to see how many pages I have left and I’m not usually happy with the answer. I recognize that he’s a good writer but I just don’t like his style, which means I end up not really liking his books.

I’ve been told that I probably just don’t “get” postmodern literature but I don’t think that’s it. I’ve really liked everything that I’ve read by Bret Easton Ellis and if he isn’t postmodern I don’t know what is.

Despite how much I disliked Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters, I still decided to read Fight Club. It was partially out of guilt because I’ve seen the movie so many times and figured the book had to be better (because it usually is, am I right?). But now that I’ve read Fight Club I can honestly say that this is one of the few times that I feel the movie is better than the book. I don’t feel this way often, the only other example I can think of is Jaws. And I’m not alone on this, by the way. According to IMDb, Chuck Palahniuk himself also thought the film was better than his novel.

I won’t get into the specific differences between the book and the movie because I don’t think any of them are worth mentioning. Both versions line up in most of the ways that matter, and each is good in its own way. I think this post put it really well:

“…the film and the book both exploit the advantages of each medium to deliver a more impressive and entertaining story to create one world that is interchangeable between the two forms while avoiding the cliché that one is better than the other.” 

The reason I think the movie is better is because I like David Fincher’s voice, his style, his tone.  It’s also just more compelling to watch these guys beating the crap out of each other rather than just reading about it. There is no disputing how original and memorable the story of Fight Club is, and Palahniuk obviously gets all the credit for that. But in terms of telling that story, I have to hand it to Fincher. His movie is pretty flawless.

Despite how I felt about Fight Club, I don’t think I’m quite ready to give up on Palahniuk just yet. I’ve only read a couple of his books and deciding I don’t like an author is kind of a big deal for me so I think I need to give it one more shot. Maybe I’ll read Choke. Or maybe I’ll just watch Fight Club again and forget we ever had this discussion.

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