Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club by Linda Yablonsky

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 58 Winter 1997
Issue 58 058  Winter 1997
​Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk. Photo by Margaret Buschman.

The narrator of this hypnotic, harrowing, bitterly comic first novel thinks he’s a tough guy. We know this right from the gun-to-your-head opening, which also drops a few clues to his sensitive, utterly submissive side, “the sissy side, if you will,” the geek inside him, the raging anarchist in the rough. We don’t know his name because he never gives it. He’s just a guy with a secure day job who wears a tie to the office and is desperate to cure his insomnia. He used to be a nice guy, but that was before he had so much trouble sleeping and met Tyler Durden, definitely a tough cookie, a charismatic subversive who harbors a barely controlled desire to engage in senseless violence.

These two devious personalities share a house, a woman, a high degree of class hatred, and an identity. They start a weekly pugilist fest called fight club, whose first rule is you never talk about fight club. So I won’t go into the story because, entertaining and horrific though it be, it’s the compressed language, dry mood, operatic structure, blunt phrasing, and intimacy with sociopathy that knocked my socks off. It’s about living with your demons, those shiny monsters who look like gods and lay down like devils and make you fight like hell for your soul. Fight Club is a gut-ripper that was left at the gate by its publisher and whose two-fisted author deserves a better fate. And if it doesn’t keep you up nights long after you’ve finished reading, well, all I can say is: Hit me as hard as you can.


Fight Club was published by W.W. Norton in August, 1996.

Geoff Dyer by Jonathan Lethem
Geoff Dyer
Related
A Voice That Will Carry a Feeling: Sejal Shah Interviewed by Rudri Bhatt Patel
This Is One Way To Dance

A memoir that challenges stereotypes, celebrates dance, and reflects on loss.

Inherently Interdisciplinary: Jasmine Dreame Wagner Interviewed by Robert Rubsam
Jasmine Dreame Wagner Portrait

The artist on how her practices influence one another, who gets to be a “Renaissance man,” and the significance of DIY ethics.

Two Poems by Jenny Zhang
Jenny Zhang Cover

it’s just writing on instagram: “best decision I ever made / marrying this one” / now no one is afraid to get drinks with “this one” / he’s “safe” because he married a nerd who thinks / she’s a 19th century aristocrat

Originally published in

BOMB 58, Winter 1997

Featuring interviews with Michael Ondaatje, Billy Bob Thornton, Hilton Als, Oumou Sangare, Emmet Gowin, Donald Antrim, Stuart Hall, Marjetica Portč, Miloš Foreman, and David Rabinowitch.

Read the issue
Issue 58 058  Winter 1997