Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . . – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
Just so y’all know, that’s my favorite first line of a book, EVER. I still want a dog named Baby Tuckoo. It’s an autobiography. I don’t generally care for first-person narration, because, well… it’s very limited by what the narrator sees, hears or thinks she knows, but this was one of my first nearly-adult book loves, and it helped me on my way to a love of biographies of any sort.
Why am I sharing this? Well, I haven’t re-read A Portrait… in a few years, but I found myself thinking about Joyce’s writing style as I was reading Fight Club. (I’m guessing that there are no more than two possible readers who have read both books… if you have, I’d love to hear your opinions!)
I didn’t love Fight Club, but I plowed through it quickly. I hate to give spoilers, so if you don’t want me to spoil the movie or the book, skip the next paragraph.
I knew I had to see this dark, depraved novel to its finish. I just felt in my bones that there was going to be a sharp twist and big message, and I wanted to know what both would be. I wasn’t disappointed. Sure enough, short of Marla (the love-ish interest-ish), our narrator was the last to put the pieces together and figure out who Tyler really was. I didn’t see it coming, although with hindsight… If you read Fight Club or saw the movie (I haven’t, but that same twist has to be in there), did you figure it out before the big reveal?
Because Chuck Palahniuk’s style isn’t like most things I read, I’ve already started Survivor. His use of in medias res requires me to pay attention from the start, and makes me think more than a lot of books do. There’s no easing into his works. Like Jodi Picoult, his happy ending void is going to keep him from being a favorite of mine, or even someone I can suggest y’all need to read. However, if you like dark themes and appreciate an author who makes you think, you’ll appreciate his work.
I’m also reminded of a very heated discussion I had more than 20 years ago about Stephen King. I’ve written one rather brutal, no-happy ending short story that I’m very proud of, even though I wrote it in high school, so I don’t think twisted tales or sorrid subjects come from a warped mind. I think we’ve all had a gripping nightmare or two, or witnessed a scene that really made us question the compassion of humanity. I like to be challenged as a reader, and Chuck does that, to be sure.
Another book that came to mind while I was reading Fight Club was Life of Pi. I truly HATED that book and had to make myself finish it, and was then VERY sorry I saw it through. Maybe I’m in a different frame of mind now, but I liked the last part (once we found out who Tyler really was) of Fight Club best!
What are you up to this weekend? What are you knitting? My knitting mojo tried to return Wednesday, but it was stiffled by my inability to do a simple two-stitch repeat 240 times per row.