The First Rule About Fight Club

The first rule about fight club is you read the book before the movie

Every writer or avid reader has a moral code to always read a book before watching the movie version. Some take this as a sign of respect to the writer or most have become accustomed to the book always being better than the movie. However, what if the author of the book you so adore says he or she believe the movie version their book is based off of is better than what they wrote? Would you feel apprehensive about wasting your time on something that even the author said did not par up with the book?

I have just finished reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. The novel was one of the best things I have ever read. After suffering through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I gave the benefit of the doubt but had to put it down good after there was no rising action for an entire 300 pages plus), I needed a little pick me up novel that by the time I finished it and put the book down, I would say, “This is one of the greatest things I have ever read.” Fight Club was that book.

The story is about an insomniac who joins many cancer groups in order to escape his white-collar job life. The helplessness, hitting rock bottom feeling he finds at cancer groups helps him find the sleep and fulfillment he cannot find anywhere else. But his life finds new meaning and fulfillment that he never thought he would find when he meets soap-making, brawler Tyler Durden. The two start a fight club together to feel the sensation of being alive in a fight, but things get out of hand as more men join the fight club and Tyler begins to implement his own plans and motives.

In my opinion, the novel was just amazing. I have never read any writing like Palahniuk’s before (the majority of my reading previously being dedicated to long, drawn out novels like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series).

With Fight Club, you do not have to for the story to begin. Page one; guess what, you are hooked in a conflict. This sounds weird, but there are those novels out there you have to commit to in the beginning because they will not become interesting until page 50 or longer, but right off the bat I was hooked by the scene of the narrator having a gun in his mouth by the man who is his idol.

Also, the writing was absolutely phenomenal. I have never read any writing like this before. Palahniuk’s writing style contained sentences that were short and bold. The writing, although containing immensely shocking subject matter, was entertaining and breathtaking at the same time.

And the ending! The ending was the most brilliant, tragic ending with a sense of hope and destruction mixed together that has ever been written on a piece of paper.

All that praise for Palahniuk aside, I was extremely excited to watch the movie version once I heard Palahniuk enjoyed the movie version more than his novel. And while I will give credit to actors Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, as well as actress Helena Bonham Carter, for portraying the characters very well, the reader (and possibly English major) in me must protest the opinion that the movie bests the book.

 It is an unfair argument to have from avid cinema watchers who have to hear the pestering from “the readers” because in all reality books will always hold seniority over the movies they are made into.

Movies based off books are, of course, born from books. The director and screen writers can interrupt the books and make them into a creative, diverse version, but at the end of the day, movies based off books are not born out of originality. Even though the movies may end up being extraordinary for the eyes (like Hayao Miyazaki’s movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle based off of the book by Diana Wynne Jones), there is nothing like picturing the characters in your head from scratch when reading a book.

The movie version of Fight Club was well done due to acting and unique cinematography, but the ending that I fell in love with in Palahniuk’s book was cut from the movie. The movie had a lot of hope for the main character by the end, while the book had a twisted hope and destruction combo that left me depressed, worried, and hopeful. Of course parts from books are always cut from movies and it always enrages readers and in this case, I can completely see why and be enraged along with them. For me, as a reader and an aspiring writer, that ending made the book what it is to me. It made Palahniuk’s writing, story plot and character development influential to me as a reader and a writer. If I would have watched the movie without reading the book, I would have done a disservice to my bookshelf. I would have thought the movie was amazing and should not waste my time on the novel that it portrayed. When avid readers watch the movie version of books first they often say, “Well what’s the point of reading it when I just watched it? I’m just going to read what I already saw and won’t be surprised by what I read.” And this holds true for some novels that are turned into movies, but Fight Club showed me a new writing style and a new author to read.

Novels, the birth of the creativity from the author, give you an experience that no movie it is based off of can. Readers get to experience those characters with a face the reader creates (not the director when looking for actors and actresses) and create a respect for the author with their story-telling capabilities and writing style.

Not to bash movies based off books because we all love to see the movie versions, but after reading Fight Club and then seeing the movie version, I have become an advocate. Read the book first when it comes to a movie you think looks interesting, because there are experiences that a movie cannot make for you that a novel so strongly can. Yes, the movie won’t have the same effect on you when you read the novel first, but I don’t think there has been any instance when someone regretted reading an amazing novel before the movie.


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