Join the Club: Stupid is Contagious

03Mar08

I’ve decided to change how I do my book reviews. I figured I might get more feedback when writing my book reviews if I made them into actual posts. I’ll still be keeping the “Books” section of my blog, but that section will be more like an archive in which all my book reviews can be accessed. I’m also thinking about making a similarly formatted section for any movie reviews I do. For my first book review post, I’ll just be combining the two reviews I already did.

http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj27/whatistechnoagain/stupidandcontagious_.jpgStupid and Contagious is a contemporary novel by Caprice Crane. It’s smart, witty, and hilarious, with chapters arranged by, alternatively, by two main characters’ points-of-view: Heaven and Brady, two wildly opposite yet strangely similar characters who develop an odd friendship and eventually fall in love. This book is by no means, however, a sappy love story. In fact, it’s barely a love story at all. Music fans rejoice, Stupid and Contagious contains bundles of music references that even the less “in the know” readers can enjoy. Simply put, this novel is just a fun and enjoyable quick read. Perfect for, ironically, airplane flights.

Next up, Fight Club.

WARNING: This review contains some movie/book spoilers.

Fight Club has to be my favorite film, and great movies are even better is when they’re based on books. Okay, right now you might be thinking, “Hey, wait, Fight Club is a book?” That’s what I said to my friend when we broached the topic of the movie, but yeah, it started out as a book. The book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk is around 200 pages, so it’s a quick read, which is always good when you need a novel that doesn’t involve commitment but is still worth the time.

Unlike a lot (okay, probably most) of movies inspired into production by successful books, the film version of Fight Club does a very good job at staying true to the source material. There were, however, some differences. Of course, all movies add things to the already existing mix, expanding on conversations and occurrences that may have only been briefly mentioned or even minor in the book, which does indeed happen in the film Fight Club. Still, there were only two prominent differences I noticed when comparing the book with the movie. First, the book is a lot darker, which is a hard notion to swallow considering the movie was almost bumped up from the R rating until a piece of dialogue was removed (Marla’s abortion quip). It’s definitely more violent. While in the film they make it a point that innocent bystanders won’t get hurt, this is not so in the book. For example, at the end of the movie, Tyler and the members of Project Mayhem made sure that the buildings they destroyed were empty. On the other hand, that was not something they planned on taking pains to ensure in the novel (even though in the end the buildings failed to be blown up anyway). The book is purely anarchic, even more so than the movie. Second, the endings are different. Besides what I just mentioned, in the book Tyler wakes up in a mental institution, and Project Mayhem is still confirmed active. In fact, the Narrator seems to have possibly even embraced his true identity and role in the Project.

Despite the differences between the book and the film, Fight Club the novel is just as mind-blowing as the film was the first time you saw it; while the movie adds on to some plot points while skipping over a few others, both versions are pretty close. It’s not like, say, Blood and Chocolate, which was totally mutilated when it was translated to the big screen. Nothing is radically altered or changed just because the screenplay writer or the director felt like being “bold” or “artistic” much to everyone else’s horror and aggravation.

What is more, you know those memorable lines from the movie that you worshiped? They’re straight out of the book, preserved in mint-condition. And that makes both the book and the movie just that much sweeter. In addition, there’s a nice little afterword at the end of the book that is definitely worth checking out in which Palahniuk discusses the book’s origins and his own experience with and thoughts on the Fight Club cult phenomenon, including the common lack of realization that there was indeed a book.

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8 Responses to “Join the Club: Stupid is Contagious

  1. Suh-weet! We are Fight Club quote junkies too, it’s exhilirating to know they were taken directly from the book. I have a friend who has dedciated years of his life to Project Mayhem inspired performance pieces, it is undoubtedly one of the most powerful films ever made.

    Now I gotta read the book.

  2. That friend of yours sounds like an awesome guy; Fight Club itself, whether you’re talking about the movie or the book, is indeed powerful, life-changing, and has accumulated quite a large cult following. Kind of like Donnie Darko—LOVE that movie. I did a review of it awhile ago but took it off the site because it isn’t a new movie and I decided I didn’t want to get in the laborious habit of reviewing any random movie I saw, just newish ones; maybe I’ll put it up just for kicks, I dunno.

    Like I said in my No Country for Old Men post, seeing a movie that’s based off of a book first and then reading the original source tends to sap some of the power and effect from the book (not so, at least from my experience, when it’s the other way around). The book-version of Fight Club was, unfortunately, no exception, but I still enjoyed it, and the parts that were left out of the movie were especially fun.

  3. Donnie Darko for the win.

    Here’s one of the mayhem projects:

    He made fake road signs, orange diagonal squares. One said “ASSHOLES AHEAD” with a graphic symbol of a sphincter. Another had a graphic symbol of a contruction worker holding a shovel, getting knocked into the air by a car symbol.

    He set them up in public places and took pictures.

    Good times.

  4. Haha, that’s so awesome! That would have been hilarious to see.

  5. I hesitated to comment on this post cause you put it out there so long ago, but I can’t resist, when I see someone loving Palahniuk I have to say something! Chuck is far and away my favorite writer of non-fantasy and/or non-comicbook literature. While Fight Club was not my favorite, nor the first I read, it still holds a really warm place in my heart due to it’s introducing the workd to Chuck.

    You see, I used to live in Portland, Oregon, which is where Chuck lives as well, I’ve bumped into him on the street and seen him in book stores. I also own a few autographed copies of his work. He is a genuinely cool guy. So seeing them turn Fight Club into a movie made me very happy. And as you have said, they did a valiant job of staying true to the source material. I agree, the book in considerably darker, and all the more wonderful for it. Rarely do I find a movie of a book I loved, or vice versa, worth it, but I think both are incredibly strong. I do think of the movie as a sort of beginners version though.

    You MUST, if you have to beg, borrow, or steal copies, read the following:
    Choke – My personal favorite
    Invisible Monsters – The first Chuck I read
    Survivor – Oh man, so close to being the best ever!

    As a side bar, Hollywood is making Choke, starring Sam Rockwell, so read it before it comes out!

  6. Hey, I don’t mind—I love getting comments on any post I make, regardless of when. =]

    Wow, that’s freaking awesome that you actually know him personally (and got some autographed books to boot)!

    My friend really likes his stuff, too; he’s probably read all three of those. But I will definitely get my hands on those when I have a chance, especially Choke, since they’re making a movie out of it—because, like I said, seeing the movie-version of a book first usually ruins it for me at some level, because I already know what’s going to happen.

  7. 7 almostperfectzen

    While it’s great that you reviewed Fight Club, I’m slightly horrified that you review it with Stupid and Contagious. Simply because Fight Club obviously overshadows the chick book. But what you forget to mention is the connection that these two books have. . . . That of course being: Me.

    Oh and I agree with Micheal, you must read those three(and yes I read/own all three, and yes you can borrow them), at the very least, Invisible Monsters. Which is one of my all time favorite novels. You could review it with Forget About It. Make Chuck and Caprice reviews always paired together! It’d be a shitty, pointless theme.

  8. Lol, hey Tim! Yes, I got the books from you. ;;rolls eyes;; 😛

    Well, I hadn’t initially put them together. They started as “separate” reviews on my Books page; then I thought I might get a better response (which I did) if I made them actual posts as well as linking to them from my Books page. So since I had already done them, and the reviews weren’t too long, I just put them together.

    Heh, well, I have to read Forget About It, but I also want to read Sinner and The Crystal Skull after that, as well as some other books that I have lying around my room. So it might be awhile (and thus they won’t be paired together—heh, “shitty, pointless theme”), but yeah, definitely, I’ll at least buy Invisible Monsters. 😀


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