Chuck Palahniuk – Fight club (review)

The Chronicles Of Cowboy Jimmy images Fight Club Book ...

I am not going to start this review with the clichéd repetition of the book’s mantra, as I am tempted to, but I as I know plenty of others have done already.

Instead, I will say that I wish I hadn’t watched the movie starred by Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, and directed by David Fincher in 1999, since it took away from me the joy of finding out the biggest twist in the story (which I won’t comment on if you have not, at this point, either watched the movie or read the book).

This is an excellent book. Dark, yes, but not as dark as I am led to believe that his other books are (by my girlfriend, who has read most of them). I like the short story quality that each of the chapters has, and I like how every single piece of seemingly “useless” trivia mentioned within the book ties to the story in a neat, delightfully cohesive fashion.

It was such a good read that I finished it in just a couple of days, hypnotized by Palahniuk’s prose and the dystopian nature of the piece. I also find myself increasingly distrusting of high-end food establishments after reading it.

It is terrifying, however, to find out how misunderstood the book (and movie) are. The whole idea is to take a jab at toxic masculinity, the “hey let’s see whose dong is longer” and “boys will be boys”; but it became some sort of a ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ in that people who are toxically masculine got inspired by the book. Not changed, Not horrified. Inspired. I still remember that one time a coworker asked me to join a fight club, back in México, in 2015. He might have been joking, but he might have not, and given his character I’m more inclined towards the latter.

I believe that the book is a masterpiece of fiction, with a satisfyingly rounded character and story arc and a successful “back to the beginning” feeling at the end. I’m almost a little too afraid of checking out Fight Club 2 (a graphic novel), afraid that it will mess with what I consider to be one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

Rating: 4.3/5
Publisher: (Edward) Norton

“The Death of Money” – review

“The next financial collapse will resemble  nothing in history… Deciding upon  the best course to follow will require  comprehending a minefield of risks, while  poised at a crossroads, pondering the  death of the dollar.”

This was a tough read.

Not just because Rickards writes in a lot of technical terms (watered down enough so as to not lose a layman like myself, but not so much that they become “dumbed down”), but also because it hits pretty close to a fear I’ve had all of my adult life: What will happen when/if money stops being a thing?

Makes sense coming from someone with such ridiculous anxieties as me, to wonder “Hey, what gives money value? Just our confidence? What happens when that is lost?” as soon as I started my professional life. So when I heard about this book from the folks at a few months ago, I had to get it and find out what Rickards had to say.

The book is a very wide and detailed explanation of the multiple financial crashes that have happened in the past hundred or so years, as well as a dip into the history of fiat currency, gold standards, the International Monetary Fund, the Chinese, Japanese, European Union and the United States’ economies. It also takes a jab at predicting what’s gonna happen in the future, and lays out a bunch of scenarios and solutions to the problems caused by the 2008 market collapse, the greediness of central banks and the establishment of the US Dollar as a reserve currency for the world. In other words, it is a book that goes all over the place, throwing a lot of information at you and both scaring you and calming you down.

I even watched a few of Rickards’ interviews and conferences on Youtube, and I have to say, the guy is really good at making a case for gold to come back as a monetary standard, just to complement the ideas that this book has implanted in my head. But I digress.

The book is good. Like, really good. Very technical and scary, yeah, but overall (and exempting a few weird comments that might come off as overly conservative, but that are understandable given the author’s age) it is a great book. The title is supposed to scare you into buying it, and haha, it did the trick for me, but as the author explains in the first few pages, it’s not about the death of money per se, but rather about the death of the USD as the reserve currency, and about the coming economic crash. This crash, he says, will resemble a lot the 2008 crisis and it will be something that we will bounce off from, as usual, but that it might be a good idea to be prepared for it when it comes.

Rickards knows what he’s talking about, and you can tell. The book was published in 2014, and the edition I read was a 2017 with a new preface that explains how some of the predictions and analysis from the first edition either came true or are on their way to come true. Also, the way he interweaves history with explanation and with anecdotes of his own experience is pretty great.

And if you’d like to fact check all the things he says, there is an ample bibliography at the end of the book.

The book does tend to lose you every now and then, though, and that might have to do with how hard it is to concentrate on the subject at hand while juggling all the numbers and implications at the same time; but in the end it will be great reference material to come back to later, and I took good care of underlining and marking all the stuff that caught my attention.

I recommend it a lot, and remember that before heeding his advice on portfolio diversification and jumping out to buy gold or fine art in order to protect your finances, you should read more material on the subject from more authors in order to make up your mind.

Rating: 3.8/5
Portfolio Penguin