Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk’s darkly funny first novel tells the story of a disenfranchised young man frustrated with his bureacratic job and superficial relationships and disillusioned with the consumer culture’s prepackaged pleasures. Relief for him and his peers comes in the form of Tyler Durden, the intensely charismatic inventor of Fight Club. Waiters, clerks, and middlemen seek out the visceral satisfaction of secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars, thinking they have found a way to live beyond their confining and stultifying lives. But in Tyler’s world there are no rules, no limits, no brakes.
→ Chapter 1
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. For a long time though, Tyler and I were best friends. People are always asking, did I know about Tyler Durden.
The barrel of the gun pressed against the back of my throat, Tyler says “We really won’t die.”
With my tongue I can feel the silencer holes we drilled into the barrel of the gun. Most of the noise a gunshot makes is expanding gases, and there’s the tiny sonic boom a bullet makes because it travels so fast. To make a silencer, you just drill holes in the barrel of the gun, a lot of holes. This lets the gas escape and slows the bullet to below the speed of sound.
→ Chapter 2
BOB’S BIG ARMS were closed around to hold me inside, and I was squeezed in the dark between Bob’s new sweating tits that hang enormous, the way we think of God’s as big. Going around the church basement full of men, each night we met: this is Art, this is Paul, this is Bob; Bob’s big shoulders made me think of the horizon. Bob’s thick blond hair was what you get when hair cream calls itself sculpting mousse, so thick and blond and the part is so straight.
His arms wrapped around me, Bob’s hand palms my head against the new tits sprouted on his barrel chest.
“It will be alright,” Bob says. “You cry now.”
→ Chapter 3
YOU WAKE UP at Air Harbor International.
Every takeoff and landing, when the plane banked too much to one side, I prayed for a crash. That moment cures my insomnia with narcolepsy when we might die helpless and packed human tobacco in the fuselage.
This is how I met Tyler Durden.
You wake up at O’Hare.
You wake up at LaGuardia.
→ Chapter 4
ALL THE USUAL brain parasites are here, tonight. Above and Beyond always gets a big turnout. This is Peter. This is Aldo. This is Marcy.
The introductions, everybody, this is Marla Singer, and this is her first time with us.
At Above and Beyond, we start with the Catch-Up Rap. The group isn’t called Parasitic Brain Parasites. You’ll never hear anyone say “parasite.” Everybody is always getting better. Oh, this new medication. Everyone’s always just turned the corner. Still, everywhere, there’s the squint of a five-day headache. A woman wipes at involuntary tears. Everyone gets a name tag, and people you’ve met every Tuesday night for a year, they come at you, handshake hand ready and their eyes on your name tag.
→ Chapter 5
THE SECURITY TASK force guy explained everything to me.
Baggage handlers can ignore a ticking suitcase. The security task force guy, he called baggage handlers Throwers. Modern bombs don’t tick. But a suitcase that vibrates, the baggage handlers, the Throwers, have to call the police.
How I came to live with Tyler is because most airlines have this policy about vibrating baggage.
My flight back from Dulles, I had everything in that one bag. When you travel a lot, you learn to pack the same for every trip. Six white shirts. Two black trousers. The bare minimum you need to survive.
Traveling alarm clock.
Cordless electric razor.
Six pair underwear.
Six pair black socks.
→ Chapter 6
TWO SCREENS INTO my demo to Microsoft, I taste blood and have to start swallowing. My boss doesn’t know the material, but he won’t let me run the demo with a black eye and half my face swollen from the stitches inside my cheek. The stitches have come loose, and I can feel them with my tongue against the inside of my cheek. Picture snarled fishing line on the beach. I can picture them as the black stitches on a dog after it’s been fixed, and I keep swallowing blood. My boss is making the presentation from my script, and I’m running the laptop projector so I’m off to one side of the room, in the dark.
More of my lips are sticky with blood as I try to lick the blood off, and when the lights come up, I will turn to consultants Ellen and Walter and Norbert and Linda from Microsoft and say, thank you for coming, my mouth shining with blood and blood climbing the cracks between my teeth.
→ Chapter 7
ONE MORNING, THERE’S the dead jellyfish of a used condom floating in the toilet.
This is how Tyler meets Marla.
I get up to take a leak, and there against the sort of cave paintings of dirt in the toilet bowl is this. You have to wonder, what do sperm think.
This is the vaginal vault?
What’s happening here?
→ Chapter 8
MY BOSS SENDS me home because of all the dried blood on my pants, and I am overjoyed.
The hole punched through my cheek doesn’t ever heal. I’m going to work, and my punched-out eye sockets are two swollen-up black bagels around the little piss holes I have left to see through. Until today, it really pissed me off that I’d become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I’m doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyone’s hostile little FACE.
Worker bees can leave
Even drones can fly away
The queen is their slave
→ Chapter 9
TYLER’S SALIVA DID two jobs. The wet kiss on the back of my hand held the flakes of lye while they burned. That was the first job. The second was lye only burns when you combine it with water. Or saliva.
“This is a chemical burn,” Tyler said, “and it will hurt more than you’ve ever been burned.”
You can use lye to open clogged drains.
Close your eyes.
A paste of lye and water can burn through an aluminum pan.
A solution of lye and water will dissolve a wooden spoon.
→ Chapter 10
I STOP THE elevator between floors while Tyler undoes his belt. When the elevator stops, the soup bowls stacked an the buffet cart stop rattling, and steam mushrooms up to the elevator ceiling as Tyler takes the lid off the soup tureen.
Tyler starts to take himself out and says, “Don’t look at me, or I can’t go.”
The soup’s a sweet tomato bisque with cilantro and clams. Between the two, nobody will smell anything else we put in.
I say, hurry up, and I look back over my shoulder at Tyler with his last half inch hanging in the soup. This looks in a really funny way like a tall elephant in a waiter’s white shirt and bow tie drinking soup through its little trunk.
Tyler says, “I said, `Don’t look.”’
→ Chapter 11
IN SOUTH AMERICA, Land of Enchantment, we could be wading in a river where tiny fish will swim up Tyler’s urethra. The fish have barbed spines that flare out and back so once they’re up Tyler, the fish set up housekeeping and get ready to lay their eggs. In so many ways, how we spent Saturday night could be worse.
“It could’ve been worse,” Tyler says, “what we did with Marla’s mother.”
I say, shut up.
Tyler says, the French government could’ve taken us to an underground complex outside of Paris where not even surgeons but semiskilled technicians would razor our eyelids off as part of toxicity testing an aerosol tanning spray.
→ Chapter 12
MY BOSS STANDS too close to my desk with his little smile, his lips together and stretched thin, his crotch at my elbow. I look up from writing the cover letter for a recall campaign. These letters always begin the same way:
“This notice is sent to you in accordance with the requirements of the National Motor Vehicle Safety Act. We have determined that a defect exists...”
This week I ran the liability formula, and for once A times B times C equaled more than the cost of a recall.
This week, it’s the little plastic clip that holds the rubber blade on your windshield wipers. A throwaway item. Only two hundred vehicles affected. Next to nothing for the labor cost.
Last week was more typical. Last week the issue was some leather cured with a known teratogenic substance, synthetic Nirret or something just as illegal that’s still used in third world tanning.
→ Chapter 13
WHEN I GET to the Regent Hotel, Marla’s in the lobby wearing a bathrobe. Marla called me at work and asked, would I skip the gym and the library or the laundry or whatever I had planned after work and come see her, instead.
This is why Marla called, because she hates me.
She doesn’t say a thing about her collagen trust fund.
→ Chapter 14
THIS IS WHY I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention.
If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you. Everything else about their checkbook balance and radio songs and messy hair went out the window.
You had their full attention.
People listened instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.
And when they spoke, they weren’t telling you a story. When the two of you talked, you were building something, and afterward you were both different than before.
Marla had started going to the support groups after she found the first lump.
→ Chapter 15
MISTER HIS HONOR, mister chapter president of the local chapter of the national united projectionist and independent theater operators union just sat.
Under and behind and inside everything the man took for granted, something horrible had been growing.
Nothing is static.
Everything is falling apart.
I know this because Tyler knows this.
For three years Tyler had been doing film buildup and breakdown for a chain of movie houses. A movie travels in six or seven small reels packed in a metal case. Tyler’s job was to splice the small reels together into single fivefoot reels that self-threading and rewinding projectors could handle. After three years, seven theaters, at least three screens per theater, new shows every week, Tyler had handled hundreds of prints.
→ Chapter 16
IT’S IN THE newspaper today how somebody broke into offices between the tenth and fifteenth floors of the Hein Tower, and climbed out the office windows, and painted the south side of the building with a grinning five story mask, and set fires so the window at the center of each huge eye blazed huge and alive and inescapable over the city at dawn.
In the picture on the front page of the newspaper, the face is an angry pumpkin, Japanese demon, dragon of avarice hanging in the sky, and the smoke is a witch’s eyebrows or devil’s horns. And people cried with their heads thrown back.
What did it mean?
→ Chapter 17
MY BOSS BRINGS another sheet of paper to my desk and sets it at my elbow. I don’t even wear a tie anymore. My boss is wearing his blue tie, so it must be a Thursday. The door to my boss’s office is always closed now, and we haven’t traded more than two words any day since he found the fight club rules in the copy machine and I maybe implied I might gut him with a shotgun blast. Just me clowning around, again.
Or, I might call the Compliance people at the Department of Transportation. There’s a front seat mounting bracket that never passed collision testing before it went into production.
If you know where to look, there are bodies buried everywhere.
Morning, I say.
He says, “Morning.”
Set at my elbow is another for-my-eyes-only important secret document
One pair of heavy black shoes.
→ Chapter 18
THIS FRIDAY NIGHT, I fall asleep at my desk at work.
When I wake up with my face and my crossed arms an my desktop, the telephone is ringing, and everyone else is gone. A telephony was ringing in my dream, and it’s not clear if reality slipped into my dream or if my dream is slopping over into reality.
I answer the phone, Compliance and Liability. That’s my department. Compliance and Liability.
→ Chapter 19
THE FIGHT CLUB mechanic is standing on the gas, raging behind the wheel in his quiet way, and we still have something important to do, tonight.
One thing I’ll have to learn before the end of civilization is how to look at the stars and tell where I’m going. Things are quiet as driving a Cadillac through outer space. We must be off the freeway. The three guys in the back seat are passed out or asleep.
“You had a near-life experience,” the mechanic says.
→ Chapter 20
THE TEARS WERE really coming now, and one fat stripe rolled along the barrel of the gun and down the loop around the trigger to burst flat against my index finger. Raymond Hessel closed both eyes so I pressed the gun hard against his temple so he would always feel it pressing right there and I was beside him and this was his life and he could be dead at any moment.
This wasn’t a cheap gun, and I wondered if salt might fuck it up.
Everything had gone so easy, I wondered. I’d done everything the mechanic said to do. This was why we needed to buy a gun. This was doing my homework.
We each had to bring Tyler twelve driver’s licenses. This would prove we each made twelve human sacrifices.
I parked tonight, and I waited around the block for Raymond Hessel to finish his shift at the all-night Korner Mart, and around midnight he was waiting for a night owl bus when I finally walked up and said, hello.
→ Chapter 21
YOU WAKE UP at Sky Harbor International.
Set your watch back two hours.
The shuttle takes me to downtown Phoenix and every bar I go into there are guys with stitches around the rim of an eye socket where a good slam packed their face meat against its sharp edge. There are guys with sideways noses, and these guys at the bar see me with the puckered hole in my cheek and we’re an instant family.
Tyler hasn’t been home for a while. I do my little job. I go airport to airport to look at the cars that people died in. The magic of travel. Tiny life. Tiny soaps. The tiny airline seats.
Everywhere I travel, I ask about Tyler.
→ Chapter 22
ALL NIGHT LONG, your thoughts are on the air.
Am I sleeping? Have I slept at all? This is the insomnia.
Try to relax a little more with every breath out, but your heart’s still racing and your thoughts tornado in your head.
Nothing works. Not guided meditation.
You’re in Ireland.
Not counting sheep.
→ Chapter 23
FAST FORWARD, fly back home to Marla and the Paper Street Soap Company.
Everything is still falling apart.
At home, I’m too scared to look in the fridge. Picture dozens of little plastic sandwich bags labeled with cities like Las Vegas and Chicago and Milwaukee where Tyler had to make good his threats to protect chapters of fight club. Inside each bag would be a pair of messy tidbits, frozen solid. .
In one corner of the kitchen, a space monkey squats on the cracked linoleum and studies himself in a hand mirror. “I am the all-singing, all-dancing crap of this world,” the space monkey tells the mirror. “I am the toxic waste byproduct of God’s creation.”
→ Chapter 24
HIS NAME IS Robert Paulson and he is forty-eight years old. His name is Robert Paulson, and Robert Paulson will be forty-eight years old, forever.
On a long enough time line, everyone’s survival rate drops to zero.
The big cheesebread. The big moosie was on a regulation chill-and-drill homework assignment. This was how Tyler got into my condominium to blow it up with homemade dynamite. You take a spray canister of refrigerant, R-12 if you can still get it, what with the ozone hole and everything, or R-134a, and you spray it into the lock cylinder until the works are frozen.
On a chill-and-drill assignment, you spray the lock on a pay telephone or a parking meter or a newspaper box. Then you use a hammer and a cold chisel to shatter the frozen lock cylinder.
→ Chapter 25
FOR YEARS NOW I’ve wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.
I’m with Marla in room 8G at the Reagent Hotel. With all the old people and junkies shut up in their little rooms, here, somehow, my pacing desperation seems sort of norms and expected.
“Here,” Marla says while she’s sitting cross-legged on her bed and punching a half-dozen wake-up pills out of their plastic blister cart “I used to date a guy who had terrible nightmares. He hated to sleep too.”
What happened to the guy she was dating?
“Oh, he died. Heart attack. Overdose. Way too many amphetamines,” Marls says. “He was only nineteen.”
Thanks for sharing.
→ Chapter 26
THAT OLD SAYING, about how you always kill the thing you love, well, it works both ways.
And it does work both ways.
This morning I went to work and there were police barricades between the building and the parking lot with the police at the front doors, taking statements from the people I work with. Everybody milling around.
I didn’t even get off the bus.
I am Joe’s Cold Sweat.
→ Chapter 27
THE EXPLODED SHELL of my burned-out condo is outer space black and devastated in the night above the little lights of the city. With the windows gone, a yellow ribbon of police crime scene tape twists and swings at the edge of the fifteen-story drop.
I wake up on the concrete subfloor. There was maple flooring once. There was art on the walls before the explosion. There was Swedish furniture. Before Tyler.
I’m dressed. I put my hand in my pocket and feel.
→ Chapter 28
HIS NAME WAS Patrick Madden, and he was the mayor’s special envoy on recycling. His name was Patrick Madden, and he was an enemy of Project Mayhem.
I walk out into the night around First Methodist, and it’s all coming back to me.
All the things that Tyler knows are all coming back to me.
Patrick Madden was compiling a list of bars where fight clubs met.
All of the sudden, I know how to run a movie projector. I know how to break locks and how Tyler had rented the house on Paper Street just before he revealed himself to me at the beach.
→ Chapter 29
TYLER’S STANDING THERE, perfectly handsome and an angel in his everything-blond way. My will to live amazes me.
Me, I’m a bloody tissue sample dried on a bare mattress in my room at the Paper Street Soap Company.
Everything in my room is gone.
My mirror with a picture of my foot from when I had cancer for ten minutes. Worse than cancer. The mirror is gone. The closet door is open and my six white shirts, black pants, underwear, socks, and shoes are gone. Tyler says, “Get up.”
→ Chapter 30
IN MY FATHER’S house are many mansions. Of course, when I pulled the trigger, I died.
And Tyler died.
With the police helicopters thundering toward us, and Marla and all the support group people who couldn’t save themselves, with all of them trying to save me, I had to pull the trigger.
This was better than real life.
And your one perfect moment won’t last forever.
Everything in heaven is white on white.