by Devarsi Ghosh
The book is a complete descent into madness. Darkness. Oblivion. At the end of which you feel saved.
Ha! I am a big fan of the movie. I have seen it countless times and I finally got down to read the book yesterday. I’d been delaying it primarily ’cause I heard from sources, Palahniuk himself being one of them, that the movie is better. Also, I tried reading Invisible Monsters a long time ago and I couldn’t cut through Chuck’s prose. His prose is one-of-a-kind.
Anyway, to come to the first real opinion you might be looking for: I found the book better than the movie.
Is the book better than the movie? That’s for you to decide. As of now, I will only tell you why I think what I think.
(Spoilers Ahead) First of all, the book is in itself, GREAT. I hope you’ve seen Taxi Driver. If you haven’t, you won’t get what I am trying to say. Imagine a Taxi Driver novel narrated in first person where you are digging through Travis Bickle’s sick, demented, cancerous mind one word at a time, one paragraph a minute. The experience is bound to be dark, trippy and is going to make you question your sanity at the end of it. Reading Fight Club was something similar. With the movie, you all saw the events unfold through a, how do I put this, jazzed-up, glossy, distant medium. But the actual matter of this story, the insides of Jack/Tyler’s brain is so f**ked up, while you are reading and finally when you finish the book, it gives you an entirely different kind of psychological jolt that you cannot expect from the movie. Sure, the movie and the book share the same themes, the same ideas and it’s the ideas and the quotes and the cool stuff that fans of Fight Club, casual or not, to this date talk the most about, but as far as I am concerned, the juice of the book lies in Jack/Tyler’s growing, slow-burning insanity and exactly how Chuck writes it and it’s bloody fantastic!
Simply put, the book is as much a spirited, passionate meditation on insanity and depression as it is about anti-consumerism, masculine identities, anarchism and what have you.
Another reason I loved the book more than the movie is because of the endings. With the book, the way it’s progressing, Tyler reaches his inevitable end. It’s beautiful. It’s brilliant – all the support group people coming together calling out to him, him ending up in the mental institution he calls heaven, with the space monkeys surrounding him, promising that his dreams of ending civilization won’t fail… The book from start-to-middle-to-finish is perfect; there is not a single jarring note, there is not a single thing I disapprove of, all in all – Tyler reaches where he’s supposed to reach.
Whereas, in the movie, we end up with an abrupt twist (after the first obvious twist) – Jack shoots himself, Tyler disappears or rather Jack reconciles between his two selves and now both are one and they can equally handle Marla, the monkeys and himself with equal ease. People say Fincher makes dark movies but the ending is a true cop-out. It’s a forced hopeful, happy, sweet-muffin ending which in all likelihood, given the circumstances, the crazy, f**ked up circumstances, is the last thing that’s supposed to happen. A person SO mentally ill cannot recover just like that. He just cannot. You have to read the book to realize the level of insanity Jack/Tyler has drowned into and the movie kind of didn’t really capture the sickness of the novel. Nevertheless, it’s one of the greatest films ever made without a doubt, but yeah, the book is definitely a totally different animal, better than the movie in my opinion and obviously, highly recommended.