Book Review: “Fight Club”

If you’ve seen the movie “Fight Club” and/or read the book, please feel free to compare and comment. Even if you haven’t, let me know what you think.

I love the movie, even though it’s out of my usual genres. It’s the only Brad Pitt movie I like. Edward Norton is a major babe and a great actor.

The first rule of Fight Club? Don’t talk about Fight Club.

Fight Club

Title and why I picked this book:

“Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve seen the movie countless times. I may have seen it more than once in a day. Maybe. I didn’t think of reading the book until a former friend told me how good it was.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

That’s a hard one. I guess anyone who likes reading books about against-the-grain thinking because this is definitely it. If you ask a couple of my friends and my dad, it could also be for anyone who wants to read a truly messed up love story. This idea is debatable.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to know if it follows the book, this is obviously a must-read.

What did I like about this book?

The detail. Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t spare much from the reader in the story. He describes the actions of the characters like the reader was right next to him.

I also liked that it’s short. I wonder how such a short book (208 pages) became a 2 hour, 31-minute movie.

What didn’t I like about the book?

That’s another hard one. I enjoyed this novel start to finish. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie first? Is it the flow of the story? It could be a combination.

Plot:

This novel has an anonymous narrator, who lives a stressful life due to his job. He travels a lot as a recall specialist and has a bad case of insomnia, to say the least. His therapist recommends that he attends a support group for men with testicular cancer because his stress levels are about the same as men with that illness.

He finds that sharing his issues helps even though he obviously does not have cancer, but while attending those groups, he meets Maria, another person who is there minus the illness. They end up arguing and decide to attend separate groups to avoid seeing each other. At some point, the narrator meets up with Tyler Durden.

The Narrator loses his house to an explosion (with a really sketchy explanation) and he ends up staying with Tyler. The two men develop the Fight Club as a way of dealing with life’s issues, with 8 rules. The first rule is the one most commonly remembered by those who have read the book and/or seen the movie- “You don’t talk about Fight Club”.

Throughout the story, the Narrator and Tyler expand the Fight Club wherever they can. They create “Project Mayhem”, which is basically playing pranks on Corporate America whenever and wherever they can. It’s the Narrator’s way of getting back at the people who made him so miserable.

The story does have many confusing pieces and plot twists- are Tyler and the Narrator the same person? Is Tyler just a separate personality? What is really behind Project Mayhem? It’s a book that draws you in from pretty much page one and keeps you intrigued until the end.

I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective.

Quote that I liked:

“Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.”

Everyone goes through something that changes them, and it’s usually not pretty. Those events teach us things that we wouldn’t have known otherwise- this might be about ourselves or the world around us. Sacrifice and pain aren’t great but we are usually better and stronger for them.

That’s it for this month! Have you read a book, seen the movie and couldn’t decide which was better? That’s how I feel about “Fight Club”.

Book Review: “Fall to Pieces”

I love to read memoirs. For some reason, I really enjoy reading memoirs of those with addiction, and this was before my drinking became a problem. I’ve read “Life” by Keith Richards, which was fantastic but took three weeks because it’s over 500 pages.

I’ve also read Nikki Sixx’s book, “The Heroin Diaries”. It was a bit wild, but still very interesting. I’m just waiting for a member of Fleetwood Mac to come out with their memoirs. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

I”ve read “Fall to Pieces” before, but it was a bit different re-reading it this time. This book was written by Mary Forsberg Weiland, the first wife of Scott Weiland.

He was the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots, one of the best rock bands of the 90s. If you’re too young to know who this band is, you might want to go on YouTube. They were a great band. Scott died in December 2015, unfortunately from an overdose.

Book cover

The book opens with a very descriptive explanation of her childhood in California, a bit in New Jersey after her mom’s remarriage and, of course, when she met Scott.

Mary also became a model while moving around and became quite successful while still a teen. She also met her best friends during this time. She became friends with Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have remained friends for many years.

It wasn’t until I read Scar Tissue, his autobiography, that I understood all the while Anthony was being my true friend, his own soul was being badly shaken.”

This stood out. We don’t always know what our friends are going through, much less anyone else. People hide things but still make things look at least bearable. I’ve been there for my friends through their own issues but yet struggling through my own.

The story of her relationship and later, marriage, with Scott, is so well detailed. She tells of the good, bad and in between. They were together off and on nearly a decade before marrying, and they had two kids together- a daughter and a son.

During this time, Mary drank and used a lot of substances. She knew it wasn’t the best way to live, but it took multiple attempts to finally stop using.

Mary also has had a long battle with bipolar disorder, possibly beginning when she was a teen. It’s hard for her or anyone else to know. She wasn’t diagnosed until well into adulthood, and this is well documented in the book. She struggled to accept this diagnosis along with being an addict.

Many people with either issue do. I will say she is being treated and is sober, but I won’t spoil the ending for you on how she got there.

Mary shared a quote from a community college class:

“In recovery, we look for progress, not perfection.”

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This is very accurate. Nobody is perfect, and anyone recovering from any kind of addiction certainly isn’t. Progress is what counts the most. It is not close to easy, and anyone who tells you it is- they are not entirely correct.

One of my best friends, Tyson, once asked me if I was okay while sitting at dinner and the talk to turned to beer for a while. I wasn’t a fan of beer to begin with, and he knows this, but he was making sure I wasn’t thinking about having a drink.

I wasn’t, but I am very grateful that he asked. It took a year before I could even go into a sports bar. “One day at a time” is the best quote I have ever heard that applies to recovery.

As many of us know, Scott and Mary did not work out (the section about the end of their marriage is a sad one) but they were able to co-parent, at least as of the writing of this book. I’m one of the millions of fans that were saddened to hear of Scott’s death. He was incredibly talented, like many others, but yet, he had an addiction that he was never quite able to end.

Pic courtesy of Google

Book Review: “The Bell Jar”

Thanks for coming back for another book review!

Title and why I chose this book:

“The Bell Jar”

I’m not sure why I chose this book. I read it years ago in college and decided to give it a re-read. Obviously, I have changed since I was in college, so I saw things differently this time around.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

I’m not really sure. Esther was a young woman trying to find herself, which is something many people go through. Maybe someone who has already gone through that? I wouldn’t want to read this if I were currently struggling with life because of how her mental state takes a turn.

Bell Jar

What did I like about this book?

I did like that Sylvia Plath was accurate with the language of the time in which the novel was written. Some writers aren’t great with that.

What didn’t I like about the book?

The novel kind of dragged on. I lost interest about halfway and had to stop for a day or so. I also got a bit busy and didn’t have time to read another book in time for the review date.

I did pick up and finish the book. I’m glad that Esther did make one big decision about her life (no spoilers) but I didn’t like seeing things go downhill for her in the end.

Plot:

As I mentioned before, Esther is a young woman trying to figure herself and her life out. This is hard for many of us. She was faking her way through all of it until her boss, Jay Cee, called her out on it.

She becomes fascinated with losing her virginity after her longtime boyfriend loses him to another woman. This was a crushing blow to her and she sets out to have sex with various men that she meets but isn’t successful. The boyfriend ends up in a TB sanitorium.

It’s almost like she just gets tired of trying to live up to what everyone expects. She cancels her summer school classes -“I listened to the zombie’s voice leave a message that miss Esther Greenwood was canceling all arrangements to come to summer school” after not getting into a writing class.

Her boyfriend writes her a letter inviting her for a visit, he’s falling for a nurse, but if she sees him he might change his mind. She writes back that she was done with him. A good way to stand up for yourself, right? Esther was not having his crap. She was relieved that she wouldn’t have to marry him.

Esther eventually gets referred to a psychiatrist by a family member after not being able to read, write clearly or sleep. This had gone on for some time and her mother had gotten concerned.

She is placed in a mental health facility and receives ECT. She didn’t really understand why and thought she did something terrible to get that kind of treatment.

How does Esther’s story end? Does she get back together with her boyfriend? You’ll have to read to find out.

Quote that I liked:

“I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to”

If you’ve ever been depressed, you can relate to this. I’ve had some very bad days in which I didn’t want to get out of bed. I just lay in bed until I had to get my kids from school. It’s a terrible place to be.

I didn’t really like this but I could identify with it very well.

Thanks for reading this month’s review. Come back at the end of July for another one!

For further reading on ECT: A Brief Look at ECT

Have your taste in books changed over time, even when you re-read a book?

Book Review: “Valley Of the Dolls”

For this month’s book review, I chose a book that was a little different.

“Valley of The Dolls” is one of my favorite books, and I have loved it since the first time I read it. I don’t know how many times I have read it. The “dolls” that the book refers to is not the kind of doll your children may play with.

These dolls are pills, and there is a variety of them mentioned. In this book, which is set in the 1940s-60s, they are mainly sleeping pills, with some diet pills mentioned. I don’t think any of the pills mentioned exist today, but I’m going to assume that some of them are the basis of some of the pills that exist now.

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The book is based on the lives of three young women living in New York City- Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. They meet while trying to make a life in the city coming from three very different backgrounds. Sometimes they clash, at other times they do very well together.

They fall in love, experience heartbreak and one becomes a famous movie star and singer. One reaches her dreams of being a model and actress, and the other is happy as a secretary then falls into modeling for a makeup line.

Neely is the somewhat troubled one of the three. While chasing her dreams, she becomes addicted to pills and begins drinking heavily. She eventually ends up having to step back from the world to take care of herself, but not because she wants to.

She also became very depressed and attempted suicide more than once. She had a hard time dealing with the pressures of stardom and her chaotic life.

Jennifer goes to Europe and back, but doesn’t find true happiness until it’s almost too late. She didn’t want to live for her body, but it is all she knows. She marries twice and almost a third to someone who truly loves her, which is all she wanted before the unforeseen occurs.

Anne finds the love of her life in Lyon Burke, the friend of her boss. She refuses to give up on him, no matter what. This love remains even after he leaves her not once, but twice. Everyone thinks she is mad for not letting go, even when she has a relationship with another man. Does Lyon ever come back for her? You’ll have to read to find out.

This book does have a sequel, set much later in everyone’s lives, and includes Anne and Neely’s children. This is called “Shadow of the Dolls”. I’ve read this, and it’s interesting. I didn’t include my thoughts on it for this review, but I definitely recommend reading it.

Jacqueline Susann died in 1974 and Rae Lawrence wrote this sequel based on the outline she left behind. The storyline flows well from book to book, even though there is a very large time gap between them.

If you need a novel to keep you well entertained, this is definitely one to go for.

Picture courtesy of Pinterest