LITERATURE: Up Next – Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

A few pages in and I could already see a huge difference in writing styles between Palahniuk and coming off Peter Taylor. Palahniuk punches out his words (no, I didn’t plan that metaphor, but it’s surprisingly in alignment with the title). Taylor rolls them out, like gently laying down a carpet.

Yet the dramatic conflict is immediate in both books. Here’s the opening of Fight Club:

Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.

How’s that for grabbing your attention in the opening line? Yet Taylor did it as well, creating in the first couple sentences the characters, the plot, the crisis that promised to blow apart their world.

I’ve no idea what any of this means, the narrator on the roof with a friend (?) who is holding a gun into the narrator’s mouth. Further reading brings us some neat information on how to build various forms of explosives. The building itself is expected to blow up–and here Palahniuk steps up his pace–in ten minutes. Furniture comes flying out windows below. And here, even within Palahniuk’s detective-style staccato stream of consciousness style of writing, comes something amazingly lovely in its description, albeit a nasty bit of actuality in act:

One hundred and ninety-one floors up, you look over the edge of the roof and the street below is mottled with a shag carpet of people, standing, looking up. (pg. 12)

And the minutes continue to click away, the narrator in a strange mix of acceptance and story. Murder-suicide, he says. A love triangle. Then we’re down to three minutes and the chapter ends.

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