Number five on my list of the 10 books left off the best of the 20th century lists was going to be City of Glass by Paul Auster. But Iíve changed my mind. Itís still a fabulous book (Iím rereading it now, actually) but itís not one of the ten most overlooked books from the 20th. In itís place Iíve decided to put
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Now I admit that I saw the movie first. Elvira and I saw a trailer for it, were in the mood for a movie and decided to check it out a sit looked weird, kind of cool and had one of the all time best Pixies songs ever in it. We figured itíd be some action flick. We were wrong but I have never been so delightedly wrong in my life. The movie brought up so many ideas that, at the time, I was just starting to deal with. And when I saw that it was based on a book, I decided to check it out. This was surprise number two.
I have mixed feelings about movies based on books because 99 times out of 100 the book is better and the movie pales because it either leaves out great important themes or plot points or they changed things so much that itís only loosely based on the original material. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a good example and so is the Movie the Ninth Gate (a good film by Roman Polanski but nothing even remotely as interesting as the Club Dumas).
Fight Club was different though. I still havenít decided which I like better. And frankly it doesnít matter as they are so similar and the film so true to the book that they are that rare example of how a good story can exist in any medium successfully.
Now itís not for the squeamish. Itís violent and nihilistic but Chuck Palahniuk uses these qualities that could otherwise anesthetize a reader to instead open their mind and make them think about things that our culture often refuses to think about. Like what it means to be a man in a decaying western society that has deemed your million-year -old biological drives obsolete; how do you hunt and gather and procreate when everything you need is at the grocery store and science has made you little more then just a resource for sperm? Or what one must go through these days in order to experience a genuine moment that isnít mediated through an add agency trying to sell you something.
Plus, itís really fucking funny. In a morbid, twisted sort of way. Read the chapter about Marlaís mother and tell me you didnít even chuckle. I dare you.