Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artists: Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos, David Mack
Starring: Tyler Durden (not Brad Pitt)
Release Date: 18th April 2018
“As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol… I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.”
Even as I write that quote to illustrate a point, I can hear his voice laughing at me for relying on pop culture. Whose voice? Well, a voice which pretty much every male born in the last 30 years will have engrained in their minds, right next to 8 rules you’re not supposed to talk about and a name everyone asks if you know.
A pop culture phenomenon who has transcended both his fictional portrayals and eclipsed even the writer himself. Which is one of the many central inspirations behind this sequel. Namely, the writer’s constant struggle to not only live up to his own integrity as a writer, but also to the ever looming figure of Tyler breathing down his neck, with the voice of millions saying “don’t fuck this up!” Which, if I’m being honest, is a similar daunting feeling I’m having trying to do this epic tale justice with my review.
This edition of the novel starts with some of the insights from the original publisher and Chuck Palahniuk himself about the initial release and inception of the book, building up the importance of Tyler and his rise into cult figure status. After this, it falls straight into a new re-imagining of the novel’s original ending to better fit the progression of the sequel. The storyline follows the narrator character 10 years later, now married to a loveless Marla, working a monotonous job to support his son Junior.
He has become a slave to the settling instinct, keeping Tyler at bay with drugs and therapy at the cost of his own fulfilment in life. And this is where we start to see the world unravelling for the narrator as Tyler rapidly emerges from the back of his mind and into the driver’s seat to once again unleash Project Mayhem on the world. This time however the stakes are raised far higher, it’s not just the narrator’s son but the fate of the human race at stake as we slowly unravel just what Mr Durden really is.
The first rule of Fight Club 2 is to not expect anything at all. Indeed, Palahniuk purposely messes with the reader throughout this story, providing plot twists and extremely meta fourth wall breaks that are as confusing as they are hilarious. The second rule of Fight Club 2 is to pay attention. If you glaze over even one frame then you’ll lose your place in the multitude of plot points or Easter Eggs that pop up, and there are so many different plot lines running through this tale. The main one I’ve already touched upon but as with the first Fight Club, Palahniuk has used this as a means of shining a light on today’s society and the hordes of readers that religiously read the book or saw the film.
It’s all about the transformation of revolutionary youth. What happens to all the protestor and Antifa revolutionaries when they get too old to join in the battle anymore? What happens to the militant when they fall in love and have to join the very machine they fought against must to survive? Got a liberal arts degree? That’s, great but you’ll still find yourself a slave to the 9-5 you swore you’d never be a part of. A far-right Trump fan who hates the loss of patriotism? Who cares? You’ll still be working with Mexicans on minimum wage to keep a roof over your head. While the first book dealt with the loss of father figures for an entire generation, this book deals with what happens to those men when they become slaves to a work routine – effectively becoming the absentee fathers they despised growing up.
But mostly, it’s about the character of Tyler Durden. Tyler takes the lead in narrating over his host/Sebastian/narrator/Jack/Ed Norton, and we learn just what he is and how far his plans for Mayhem stretch, as well as what drives him and his view of mankind. And throughout, we continuously see the struggle the writer has in writing a sequel to the bible of a generation.
The art I could write an entire separate review about. It’s bloody amazing! In the same way David Fincher planned every second of the film to relate to the story, so does every inch of every page here relate back to the nightmare fuel of this trip of a story. The characters are primarily drawn as they are portrayed in the book, but with flashes of recollection to the film, (Chuck knowing full well many will not have read the original source material – something which he not only addresses but takes the piss out of ). Like the trippy flashes and cigarette burns of a film reel, there are parts which are mockingly censored or covered – entire speeches hidden to add to the bewilderment of the reader. It confuses and fires imagination in equal measure, and, as with the cover art, is simply sublime.
So is it a must read for a fan of the first movie/book, providing answers to all your questions and satisfying that ten year itch? Far from it. Indeed, you may leave furious or even more confused than when you first watched/read it. Will it start another revolution? No, because as Chuck himself points out, we’re far too apathetic for that at our age. But it is an experience to be savoured, both to cast a mirror on the fanboy inside and to make us look at the world around us. It’s about how bloody hard it is to create something worthwhile and still please everyone without going insane in the process.
Take the trip, enjoy the ride, but don’t talk about it.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy