The Genius Yet Redundancy of Chuck Palahniuk, Legions of Insta-Anarchists, and the Novel Too Provocative for Hollywood by Nick

‘Dude, Fight Club totally ruled.’

No doubt you overheard this direct quote, possibly dozens of times if you saw the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation in theatres. I didn’t see it in theatres, and I heard it about 30 times more than I wished.

I remember vividly the first time I saw Palahniuk’s love/hate affair with nihilism. I was in high school, on a tennis trip in Arkansas. Much to the chagrin of my coach, I ordered Fight Club on pay-per-view from my yellow curtained, musty motel room. Afterwards, our team members bounced off each other, off the walls, off the beds, as if we had just mainlined a quart of pure cane sugar.

It wasn’t until further viewings, and probably a couple years of maturity under my belt, that the full ramifications of the movie were fully understood. Sure, it’s an over-the top ode to masculinity, an infatuation with chaos and anarchy that’s practically forced down your throat. But despite the legions of insta-anarchists the film spawned, culling direct quotes from the book or Wikipedia entries, the book still stands as a touchstone for a nihilistic generation bent on destruction as creation.

Before Palahniuk became a one-trick pony (exhibit A: Snuff. Just try to get through it without saying to yourself, ‘Haven’t I read this before?’) and before David Fincher made Fight Club the only movie adaptation to rival the quality of the original work; Palahniuk bestowed upon us his debut: Survivor. If you thought Fight Club was incendiary, check out Survivor. It has yet to be adapted to film, due mostly to a plane wreck that is just too provocative in this post-9/11 climate. While Fight Club illuminates class struggle and masculinity, Survivor is like an amphetamine fueled J.G. Ballard rant against consumerist culture and organized religion. Free will is also a major concern of the novel, as Tender Branson the protagonist, can purportedly see the future.

If, like me, you were once a huge Palahniuk fan, but like Tyler Durden in Fight Club have become grossly disillusioned with his latest fare, give Survivor a shot. Be ready for that signature style of Palahniuk’s before he beat it to death and used it as his template.

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