I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside

Back Seat Book Club – Book Two: Fight Club

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I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside

Scott "fowl sorcerous' Wachter

Description: first we geek out, then we speak out.

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Back Seat Book Club – Book Two: Fight Club

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Author:  Chuck Palahniuk Publication Date:  8/17/1996 W. W. Norton Plot summary –The main character/narrator is the protagonist, a jet-lagged automotive product recall specialist who struggles with insomnia.  He finds a measure of relief by attending several support groups for seriously ill people.  In one of the groups he meets Marla Singer, a woman who attends these support groups for similar reasons, but she is a reminder that he is a fake in these groups.  Soon after, the narrator meets the mysterious Tyler Durden.  After a consensual fist-fight in the parking lot of a bar, they move in together and soon begin an underground fighting club.  This blossoms into anti-consumerist ideas and a second underground group, this one more violent/destructive at its core.  When the narrator sets out to find Tyler, who seems to have gone missing, he is confronted with the reality that there is no Tyler Durden… that Tyler is a personality created during his periods of insomnia. Quick thoughts -
  • Some of the hosts might not be terribly enthusiastic about this one.
  • Chapter 6 was the original short story… worth reading.
  • Scott wants to compare it to The Stranger (Camus) or anything by Sartre, but it can’t be done.
  • It’s a cult of personality, especially when recruiting for Project Mayhem.
  • If you’re watching the movie… don’t eat brownie mix, or anything, during the liposuction scene.  You’re welcome.
  • Things start to come alive when the narrator begins to realize who Tyler Durden is.
  • Forced edgy, forced clever, but it doesn’t quite work on paper.  The transfer to film worked better.
  • Scott’s scary tales of insomnia.
  • There is a lack of a cohesive world; everything revolves around the narrator, but there were some bright spots of descriptive visualization.
  • Marla Singer – real person or another personality?
  • We make A LOT of comparisons to the film… get used to it.
  • The main character is deeply flawed, but not “deep.”
  • A satire of anti-consumerism?
  • Space monkeys.
  • Soap, as your buried heroes and washing society clean.  Also it’s feeding them their own kids.
  • Working class people taught that they’ll have a level of success, but they learn that it’s just not true.
  • When the narrator is flying around the country looking for himself/Tyler, he’s put up obstacles that keep him from finding what/who he is looking for but there isn’t much sympathy for the narrator.
  • The themes ring true, but the characters do not.
  • It’s an anarchist movement with a surprisingly large number of rules.
  • The parts of the story that are meant to be edgy, come off more as self-consciously edgy or childish.
  • Comments on Fight Clubs started up after the book/movie.
  • Who is this book really meant for?
  • Brief discussion on how the movie ending deviates from the book ending.
  • This is our final stand against consumerism.
How everything you ever love will reject you or die. Everything you ever create will be thrown away. Everything you’re proud of will end up as trash. – Fight Club
Your hosts for this episode:
  • Lena
  • Scott
  • Paul
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