Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fight Club 2, issue #10

Fight Club 2 #10Fight Club 2 #10 by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The world ends, but it really doesn’t. Chuck Palahniuk’s story ends but it doesn’t. Tyler dies, but he really doesn’t. In the most meta issue of the series yet, author-character Chuck Palahniuk gets to have all the endings. He writes the destruction of Rize or Die & the death of Tyler but the readers of the series show up on the stoop & demand a rewrite. The crowd (including Palahniuk & his writer friends) retrieve Marla, Sebastian & co. from a tomb with Robert Paulson’s help. Tyler & Palahniuk go off to talk about what happens next & Mr. Durden kills his creator in hopes to live another day.

First, to Palahniuk’s in-universe statement that the book ended differently, I’d like to say, NO. DUH. Some of us have been uncomfortable with all the changes since issue #0.

That said, all I can say is well, that’s over. That was certainly a story. It was interesting seeing Palahniuk take on a new medium to tell his story, although I’m not sure how well the serial format allowed him room to write. But perhaps it works in the sense that there’s plenty of fourth wall breaking & allows Palahniuk to vent his authorial frustrations. I think the idea of cultural memory & its short-sightedness is not fully explored here. Also, the final premise that Palahniuk’s readers have no idea that there’s a Fight Club book is weird to me both as a reader & as someone who once worked in a bookstore & knew Palahniuk’s readers on sight as a specific, intense & completest set of customers. I know that there are probably people who know the movie more familiarly than the book, but the idea that it’s totally unknown? Noooooooo. . . At least my various frustrations with this series did bear out & were shared by the Palahniuk character. Overall, this collection is ok but other than being a public confession of struggling with one’s own success–I don’t know. Not something I’ll be revisiting.

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fight Club 2, issue #9

Fight Club 2 #9Fight Club 2 #9 by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sebastian Narrator is reunited with his family, but not before he gets into a fist fight with his son & wife separately. Dr. Wrong petitions Tyler to possess him & pays dearly. Tyler’s minions blow up the world & those remaining gather in the chateau’s basement, waiting Tyler’s final instructions & to be buried in salt.

As I finished this penultimate issue, I was happy to see that Palahniuk is willing to let his world be just as flawed as Sebastian’s & that our author doesn’t try to make out that he’s some proto-Tyler. In a more interesting moment, Palahniuk & his writer’s group sit around discussing their anxieties & their pills while Sebastian frantically tries to find a way out of Tyler’s endgame. Another nice moment is Sebastian’s & Marla’s prolonged kiss when they are reunited. But, in short, a whole mess of destruction is going down & who knows what the next issue will bring. I’m sure those glowing letters from readers will take on an ironic twist.

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fight Club 2, issue #8

Fight Club 2 #8Fight Club 2 #8 by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

All forces converge on Tyler’s chalet as the terminally ill kids storm Rize or Die HQ in an attempt to save junior. Marla & Chloe reflect on their broken hearts before committing to their plan and Tyler & Sebastian argue more about the future. But all this drama is moot, because Chuck-Palahniuk-the-in-universe-writer doesn’t know how to resolve his plotline & Junior is channeling some dank memes.

So, the second page of this issue actually got me to like Palahniuk again. Not that I’ve actively been hating him, but in the intervening years between Snuff and now, my interest took a steep nosedive. But to see this fictionalized version of him agonizing over his characters in a critique group & to finally understand that that struggle is the whole point of this sequel–the vulnerability of being a confused fuck-up & the ensuing hijinks that occur as he tries to deal? That’s the same absurd outlook that I loved in Survivor, Diary, and Choke. I’m happy to see it again.

Otherwise, this issue is like watching a child smash all his toys together. There are bleakly amusing moments like the progeria storm troopers getting the drop on the Rize or Die soldiers or Junior screaming breath-taking obscenities at Marla as his inner Tyler comes through. But who knows what will happen next? Mr. Serve-A-Higher-Power-Than-Tyler has shown up & we know Robert Paulson is lumbering around somewhere so plenty of loose cannons can be found at a moment’s notice.

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fight CLub #2, issue 7

Fight Club 2 #7Fight Club 2 #7 by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sebastian’s struggle to remain in control continues as Dr. Wrong tries to tell him about earlier times Tyler has been active and Tyler returns to his original mission statement from Fight Club. Marla & Chloe continue to search for Junior through data-mining & eventually find him at Tyler’s secret chalet. The issue is bookended with the reappearance of Robert Paulson & the Write Klub house where Mr. Palahniuk hangs.

Palahniuk gives us a wink & a grin as he acknowledges that ‘fictional characters can survive their readers’. Tyler embraces the ‘ideas breed us’ idea that our author puts forth and returns to his former self as if trying to convince us readers that the old Tyler that they used to know is still around & that we should totally still be with him. But really, from here on out I think we’ll be seeing more meta-fictions & this story will become more about Palahniuk trying to reconcile with his own characters rather than any modern-day updating of Tyler’s philosophy. I wish we had gotten to this point sooner, because this is much more interesting to me–an author struggling with the unintended consequences of his writing & how those reinterpreted ideas have “bred” new perspectives. 3 issues to go; let’s see what happens next, shall we?

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Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fight Club 2, issue #6

Fight Club 2 #6Fight Club 2 #6 by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sebastian Narrator survives his near-fatal art vandalization project & Tyler is not happy. Tyler tries to convince Dr. Wrong to aid in a schizo murder/suicide, where T takes enough pills so S will overdose. (But wait, you say, that will kill Tyler too! Wait for the plot twist. . .) The good doctor suddenly grows a conscience & tells Sebastian the truth, showing him numerous therapy session that he’s recorded. Every moment that follows is a struggle in earnest for Sebastian to remain in control. Marla & her sidekick survive the Rize or Die attack & Progeria Girl reveals herself to be Chloe from the original novel. The two catch up & Chloe enlists her support group friends to track where Junior might be through municipal surveillance. Also, Tyler is a fucking meme & he’s not happy about that, even though it allows him to switch “hosts”. (More on that soon.)

Ok, guys, we’re getting somewhere. Dr. Wrong throws a nice wrench into the works & Sebastian’s indecision about who to listen to adds some much needed tension. We also get a few more hints as to why Robert Paulson might be alive as well as a plot loophole that allows S a chance to continue without having Tyler in his head. Cameron Stewart’s panels during the “conspiracy” explanation are more examples of the interesting ways he uses his art to convey Palahniuk’s words. The idea that Tyler manipulates men in order to breed a generation to house him will have readers reconsidering S’s statements in the first book but the surprise is somewhat undone by the other numerous details that have already been rewritten to accommodate this sequel.

The reveal of Chloe’s identity is actually kind of enjoyable to me. When Marla realizes who she is & gives her a hug, there’s a nice warmth & sincerity that stands out amidst the weirdness & mind games. I also love the way Stewart draws Junior. His big brown eyes & guileless face are both cute & unsettling. When he calmly tells Marla that he was speaking to “Nobody” about manufacturing explosives, the panel showing his face is creepy. As if to highlight what this artist was going for, there’s an alternate cover on the back of the comic done in a Family Circus style. Nice one, guys.

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