Fight Club (novel)

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You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all a part of the same compost pile.
Tyler Durden

Fight Club is a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk. The plot is based around an unnamed protagonist who struggles with his growing discomfort with consumerism and changes in the state of masculinity in American culture. In an attempt to overcome this, he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy.

For the David Fincher directed film, see Fight Club (film).

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.
  • "This isn't really death," Tyler says, "We'll be legend. We won't grow old."
    I tongue the barrel into my cheek and say, Tyler, you're thinking of vampires.
  • You do the little job you're trained to do.
    Pull a lever.
    Push a button.
    You don't understand any of it, and then you just die.
  • We have a sort of triangle thing going on here. I want Tyler. Tyler wants Marla. Marla wants me.
  • Where would Jesus be if no one had written the gospels

Chapter 2

  • Crying is right at hand in the smothering dark, closed inside someone else, when you see how everything you can ever accomplish will end up as trash.
  • This is when I'd cry because right now, your life comes down to nothing, and not even nothing, oblivion.
  • It's easy to cry when you realize that everyone you love will reject you or die. On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.
  • This was therapeutic physical contact, Chloe said. we should all choose a partner. Chloe threw herself around my head and cried. She had strapless underwear at home, and cried. Chloe had oils and handcuffs, and cried as I watched the second hand on my watch go around eleven times.
  • This is how it is with insomnia. Everything is so far away, a copy of a copy of a copy. The insomnia distance of everything, you can't touch anything and nothing can touch you.
  • Strangers with this kind of honesty make me grow a big rubbery one, if you know what I mean.
  • This was freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.

Chapter 3

  • This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
  • If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?
  • One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.

Chapter 4

  • One day you're thinking and hauling yourself around, and the next, you're cold fertilizer, worm buffet.
  • I used to work in a funeral home to feel good about myself, just the fact I was breathing.
  • "Funerals are nothing compared to this," Marla says. "Funerals are all abstract ceremony. Here, you have the real experience of death."

Chapter 5

  • I wasn't the only slave to my nesting instinct. The people I know who used to sit in the bathroom with pornography, now they sit in the bathroom with their IKEA furniture catalogue.
  • You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug.
    Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.
  • Tyler said, "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

Chapter 6

  • You can swallow about a pint of blood before you're sick.
  • The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club.
  • The second rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club.
  • Maybe self-improvement isn't the answer.
    Tyler never knew his father.
    Maybe self-destruction is the answer.
  • What you see at fight club is a generation of men raised by women.
  • My father never went to college so it was really important I go to college. After college, I called him long distance and said, now what?
    My dad didn't know, so he said get a job.
    When I got a job and turned twenty-five, long distance, I said, now what? My dad didn't know, so he said, get married.
    I'm a thirty-year-old boy, and I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer I need.
  • Fight club isn't about winning or losing fights. Fight club isn't about words.
  • You see a guy come to fight club for the first time, and his ass is a loaf of white bread. You see this same guy here six months later, and he looks carved out of wood.
  • There's hysterical shouting in tongues like at church, and when you wake up Sunday afternoon you feel saved.
  • Nothing was solved when the fight was over, but nothing mattered.

Chapter 7

  • Sometimes you do something, and you get screwed. Sometimes it's the things you don't do, and you get screwed.
  • After Tyler and Marla had sex about ten times, Tyler says, Marla said she wanted to get pregnant. Marla said she wanted to have Tyler's abortion...How could Tyler not fall for that.
  • The girl is infectious human waste, and she's confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing so she won't commit to anything.
  • Marla shouts to the police that the girl who lives in 8G used to be a lovely charming girl, but the girl is a monster bitch monster. The girl is infectious human waste, and she's confused and afraid to commit to the wrong things so she won't commit to anything.
    "The girl in 8G has no faith in herself," Marla shouts, "and she's worried that as she grows older, she'll have fewer and fewer options." Marla shouts, "Good luck."

Chapter 8

  • Worker bees can leave
    Even drones can fly away
    The queen is their slave
  • "I embrace my own festering diseased corruption."
    • Marla Singer
  • "You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night then you throw it away. The condom, I mean. Not the stranger."
    • Marla Singer
  • What Marla loves, she says, is all the things that people love intensely and then dump in an hour or a day after. The way a Christmas tree is the center of attention, then, after Christmas you see those dead Christmas trees with the tinsel still on them, dumped alongside the highway. You see those trees and think of roadkill animals or sex crime victims wearing their underwear inside out and bound with black electrical tape.
  • "Sticking feathers up your butt," Tyler says, "does not make you a chicken.
  • Tyler says I'm nowhere near hitting bottom, yet. And if I don't fall all the way, I can't be saved. Jesus did it with his crucifixion thing. I shouldn't just abandon money and property and knowledge. This isn't a weekend retreat. I should run from self-improvement, and I should be running toward disaster. I can't just play it safe anymore.
    This isn't a seminar.
  • Only after disaster can we be resurrected.
    "It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."
  • "At the store, they have 100% recycled toilet paper," Marla says. "The worst job in the world must be recycling toilet paper."
  • " a chemical burn," Tyler says, "and it will hurt worse than you've ever been burned. Worse than a hundred cigarettes...You'll have a scar."
  • "With enough soap," Tyler says, "you could blow up the whole world."

Chapter 9

  • Combined with water, lye heats to over two hundred degrees, and as it heats it burns into the back of my hand, and Tyler places his fingers of one hand over my fingers, our hands spread on the lap of my bloodstained pants, and Tyler says to pay attention because this is the greatest moment of my life.
  • "You have to see, Tyler says,"how the first soap was made of heroes."
    Think about the animals used in product testing.
    Think about the monkeys shot into space.
    "Without their death, their pain, without their sacrifice,: Tyler says, "we would have nothing."

Chapter 10

  • "Getting fired," Tyler says, "is the best thing that could happen to any of us. That way, we'd quit treading water and do something with our lives."

Chapter 12

  • I come dragging in with every muscle bruised inside and out, but my heart's still racing and my thoughts are a tornado in my head. This is insomnia. All night, your thoughts are on the air.
    All night long, you're thinking: Am I asleep? Have I slept?

Chapter 13

  • There are a lot of things we don't want to know about the people we love.

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's philosophy of life, she told me, is that she can die at any moment. The tragedy of her life is that she doesn't.
  • "Disaster is a natural part of my evolution," Tyler whispered, "toward tragedy and dissolution."
  • "I'm breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions," Tyler whispered, "because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit."
  • "The liberator who destroys my property," Tyler said, "is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."

Chapter 15

  • Nothing is static.
    Everything is falling apart.
    I know this because Tyler knows this.
  • Tyler had nothing to lose.
    Tyler was the pawn of the world, everybody's trash.

Chapter 16

  • The First Rule of Project Mayhem is you do not ask questions...The Second Rule of Project Mayhem is you do not ask questions....The Third Rule of Project Mayhem is that in Project Mayhem there are no excuses....The Fourth Rule of Project Mayhem is that you cannot lie....The Fifth Rule of Project Mayhem is you have to trust Tyler.
  • When Tyler invented Project Mayhem, Tyler said the goal of Project Mayhem had nothing to do with other people. Tyler didn't care if other people got hurt or not. The goal was to teach each man in the project that he had the power to control history. We, each of us, can take control of the world.
  • What Tyler says about the crap and the slaves of history, that's how I felt. I wanted to destroy something beautiful I'd never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn't afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I'd never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom. Pounding that kid, I really wanted to put a bullet between the eyes of every endangered panda that wouldn't screw to save its species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.
    Don't think of this as extinction. Think of this as downsizing.
  • For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone. I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans. And account for every drop of used motor oil.
    And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.
  • I wanted to breathe smoke.
    I wanted to burn the Louvre. I'd do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now.
    This is my world, my world, and those ancient people are dead.
  • "Recycling and speed-limits are bullshit," Tyler said. "They're like someone who quits smoking on his deathbed."
  • It's Project Mayhem that's going to save the world. A cultural ice age. A prematurely induced dark age. Project Mayhem will force humanity to go dormant or into remission long enough for the Earth to recover.
  • Like fight club does with clerks and box boys, Project Mayhem will break up civilization so we can make something better out of the world.
  • This was the goal of Project Mayhem, Tyler said, the complete and right-away destruction of civilization.

Chapter 17

  • You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.
  • Our culture has made us all the same. No one is truly white or black or rich, anymore. We all want the same. Individually, we are nothing.

Chapter 18

  • The mechanic says, "If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?"
  • How Tyler saw it was that getting God's attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God's hate is better than His indifference.
    If you could be either God's worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?
  • We are God's middle children, according to Tyler Durden, with no special place in history and no special attention.
    Unless we get God's attention, we have no hope of damnation or redemption.
    Which is worse, hell or nothing?
    Only if we're caught and punished can we be saved.
  • "Burn the Louvre," the mechanic says, "and wipe your ass with the Mona Lisa. This way at least, God would know our names."
  • The lower you fall, the higher you'll fly. The farther you run, the more God wants you back.

Chapter 19

  • You have a class of young strong men and women, and they want to give their lives to something. Advertising has these people chasing cars and clothes they don't need. Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don't really need.
  • We don't have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.
  • We have to show these men and women freedom by enslaving them, and show them courage by frightening them.

Chapter 20

  • Raymond K. L. Hessel, your dinner is going to taste better than any meal you've ever eaten, and tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of your entire life.

Chapter 22

  • "Remember this," Tyler said. "The people you're trying to step on, we're everyone you depend on. We're the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you're asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.
    "We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we'll all be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won't. And we're just learning this fact," Tyler said. "So don't fuck with us."

Chapter 23

  • The first time I met Tyler, I was asleep.
    I was tired and crazy and rushed, and every time I boarded a plane, I wanted the plane to crash. I envied people dying of cancer. I hated my life. I was tired and bored with my job and my furniture, and I couldn't see any way to change things.
    Only end them.
    I felt trapped.
    I was too complete.
    I was too perfect.
  • What Tyler had created was the shadow of a giant hand, and Tyler was sitting in the palm of a perfection he'd made himself.
    And a moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.

Chapter 24

  • On a long enough time line, everyone's survival rate drops to zero.
  • One minute, Robert Paulson was the warm center that the light of the world crowded around, and the next moment, Robert Paulson was an object. After the police shot, the amazing miracle of death.

Chapter 26

  • If you're male, and you're Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And sometimes you find your father in your career.

Chapter 28

  • How everything you ever love will reject you or die.
    Everything you ever create will be thrown away.
    Everything you're proud of will end up as trash.
    I am Ozymandias, king of kings.
  • And the fight goes on and on because I want to be dead. Because only in death do we have names. Only in death are we no longer part of Project Mayhem.

Chapter 30

  • I've met God across his long walnut desk with his diplomas hanging on the wall behind him, and God asks me, "Why?"
    Why did I cause so much pain?
    Didn't I realize that each of us is a sacred, unique snowflake of special unique specialness?
    Can't I see how we're all manifestations of love?
    I look at God behind his desk, taking notes on a pad, but God's got this all wrong.
    We are not special
    We are not crap or trash either.
    We just are.
    We just are, and what happens just happens.
    And God says, "No, that's not right
    Yeah. Well. Whatever. You can't teach God anything.

About the book

  • Parts of Fight Club have always been true. It’s less a novel than an anthology of my friends’ lives. I do have insomnia and wander with no sleep for weeks. Angry waiters I know mess with food. They shave their heads. My friend Alice makes soap. My friend Mike cuts single frames of smut into family features. Every guy I know feels let down by his father.

    Even my father feels let down by his father.


Encyclopedic article on Fight Club (novel) on Wikipedia

Works by Chuck Palahniuk
  Novels     Fight Club (1996) · Survivor (1999) · Invisible Monsters (1999) · Choke (2001) · Lullaby (2002) · Diary (2003) · Haunted (2005) · Rant (2007) · Snuff (2008) · Pygmy (2009) · Tell-All  
  (2010) · Damned (2011) · Invisible Monsters Remix (2012) · Doomed (2013) · Beautiful You (2014) · Make Something Up (2015)  
  Non‑fiction     Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (2003) · Stranger than Fiction: True Stories (2004)  
  Comic books     Fight Club 2 (2015–2016)  
  Film adaptations     Fight Club (1999) · Choke (2008)