Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Department of English & Rhetoric

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA 31061

alex.blazer@gcsu.edu

alexeblazer.com

 

"This is Chuck's Happy Ending": Fight Club 2 and Authorial Anxiety

The girl from Mud Camp, the one who'd found the victim, she'd said his name was Scooby-Doo, but she didn't know from where he'd come. She'd pointed out his sleepying bag. It contained nothing but fleas and a paperback copy of Fight Club. Rainbow Bright had picked around in his navel until he'd found some peyote and some Toquilone. (Chuck Palahniuk, "Torcher," Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread, 157)

Just as 1990s transgressive fiction author Bret Easton Ellis is so haunted by his career-defining serial killer creation, American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, that he wrote a metafictional memoir/ghost novel called Lunar Park about his Frankenstein's monster of a character terrorizing his authorship 15 years later, Chuck Palahniuk has written his conflicted feelings about his charismatic terrorist, Fight Club's Tyler Durden, into short stories recently published in the collection Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread as well as the genre-shifting metafictional comic/graphic novel Fight Club 2 20 years after popular culture began talking about first rule of fight club, which is to not talk about fight club. While Fight Club satirized the brand of American manhood that had sold out to IKEA consumer culture and offered up a compensatory quasi-Burning Man idol in Durden, Make Something Up's "Torcher" subtly mocks those who withdraw from the world at such festivals; further, "Expedition" suggests that Tyler Durden is not a savior for the current zeitgeist but rather a pernicious yet timeless idea of nihilism. Finally, Fight Club 2 combats the misplaced glorification of Durden’s destructive ideology not only in the inner frame, as the unnamed narrator and Marla from the novel, now married, struggle to save their family from the mental illness that is Tyler, but also in the outer frame, as characters phone Palahniuk at his weekly Write Club to ask for plot help in defeating Tyler. Palahniuk rewrites the film version of Fight Club that rescues the protagonist's suicidal and psychotic tragedy from Hollywood and fan idealization, and Palahniuk literalizes his 20-year battle with the insidious idea of negation as Tyler blows the author's head off in the graphic novel's conclusion. Fight Club 2 portrays the authorial anxiety of making something up that not only surpasses one’s intent but places one’s creative being in peril.

 

This abstract summarizes my presentation, "'This is Chuck's Happy Ending': Fight Club 2 and Authorial Anxiety." Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association. Tropicana Casino & Resort, Atlantic City, NJ. 4 Nov. 2016.