Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
This is the first Chuck Palahniuk book I’ve ever read. Insert your gasp or burst of outrage here. I’ve seen the movie Fight Club and hadn’t known it was a book until after. (I always read the book first.) So imagine my mixture of surprise and delight when these are the first sentences I read;
“If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. After a couple pages you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away.”
I had known that Chuck Palahniuk’s novels shock and almost offend readers. His humor and style of writing with satire and repetition are perfect for the truly fucked up antihero characters and storylines he creates. And I was able to see this firsthand while reading Choke.
We meet Victor and learn more about his character and life as the present day storyline progresses and also through his childhood flashbacks. Quickly, you see that Victor aims to please, is searching for love and acceptance, and also follows others to a fault. His mother is pretty terrible, and yet, he is doing everything he can to give her the best care possible. He is constantly teetering between hopelessness and hopefulness for his mother’s health and his own future.
One of my friends warned me that this book is dark and fucked up, it’s messy and also “weirdly heart wrenching”. I have to agree. The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking “OMG”, “what the hell am I reading?”, “this is so good!”. I couldn’t put it down and thus finished it in a couple hours.r
Be prepared if you decide to read it, the synopsis below will give you a sense of why it’s such a messed up story. But Palahniuk has this amazing way of writing these antihero characters that’s almost charming, so I’d definitely recommend this book and will be reading other of his stories soon.
Synopsis: Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park.