Choke Paperback – Jun 11 2002
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We can more or less deduce the following of the main protagonist in Choke; Victor Mancini is a ruthless con artist. Victor Mancini is a medical school dropout who's taken a job playing an Irish indentured servant in a colonial-era theme park in order to help care for his Alzehimer's-afflicted mother. Victor Mancini is a sex addict. Victor Mancini is a direct descendant of Jesus Christ. Welcome, once again, to the world of Chuck Palahniuk.
"Art never comes from happiness" says Mancini's mother only a few pages into the novel. Given her own dicey and melodramatic style of parenting, you would think that her son's life would be chock full of nothing but art. Alas, that's not the case--in the fine tradition of Oedipus, Stephen Dedalus and Anthony Soprano, Victor hasn't quite reconciled his issues with his mother. Instead, he's trawling sexual-addiction recovery meetings for dates and purposely choking in restaurants for a few moments of attention. Longing for a hug, in other words, he's settling for the Heimlich.
Thematically, this is pretty familiar Palanhiuk territory. It would be a pity to disclose the surprises of the plot but suffice to say that what we have here is a little bit of Tom Robbins's Another Roadside Attraction, a little bit of Don DeLillo's The Day Room and, well, a little bit of Fight Club. Just as with that book and the other two novels under Palahniuk's belt, we get a smattering of gloriously unflinching sound bites, such as this sceptical slight on prayer chains: "A spiritual pyramid scheme. As if you can gang up on God. Bully him around."
Whether this is the novel that will break Palanhiuk into the mainstream is hard to say. For a fourth book, in fact, the ratio of iffy, "dude"-intensive dialogue to interesting and insightful passages is a little higher than we might wish. In the end though, the author's nerve and daring pull the whole thing off--just. And what's next for Victor Mancini's creator? Leave the last word to him, declaring as he does on the final pages: "Maybe it's our job to invent something better ... What it's going to be, I don't know." --Bob Michaels, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Palahniuk (Fight Club; Invisible Monsters) once again demonstrates his faith in the credo that before things get better, they must get much, much worse. Like previous Palahniuk protagonists, Victor Mancini is young and prematurely cynical, a med school dropout whose eerily detached narration of the banal horrors of everyday existence gives way to a numbed account of nihilistic carnage. Cruising sex-addict meetings for action, Victor enjoys bathroom trysts with nymphomaniacs on short prison furloughs, focused on maximizing his sexual highs. During the working day, he is trapped in a 1734 colonial theme park, where the entire self-medicated staff blearily endures abusive school tours while hiding out from the world. Victor supports his mother, who is in the hospital, stricken with Alzheimer's; she is wasting away, and despite the misery she put him through in childhood (revealed in an increasingly horrific series of flashbacks), he wants to be a good boy and take care of her. This becomes challenging when Victor is seduced by a strange hospital worker calling herself Dr. Marshall, who shows him his mother's diary; it describes her self-impregnation by a holy relic she believes to be the foreskin of Jesus. This has a profound effect on Victor, who is stunned by the possibility that there may be some good in him after all. Victor is even more pathetic than Palahniuk's previous antiheroes, in that the world he creates for himself (a carnivalesque mlange of theme park, geriatric ward and asylum) is actually more horrific than the one he seeks to escape. Still, the novel showcases the author's powers of description, character development and attention-getting dialogue handily enough to give this dark meditation on addiction a distinctive and humorous twist. Author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
"Choke" is an exploration of sexual deviancy, but the main theme of the novel, like "Fight Club," is the modern-day angst caused from the apparent purposelessness of our watered-down, machine assisted lifestyle. There is a certain desperation that can be felt behind the novel's sometimes witty, sometimes grotesque, always compelling escapades. More so than in any of his other novels, you can hear Palahniuk's own uncertainty behind the false bravado of his unfortunate characters.
Essentially, "Choke" is a discussion on what is most important in life and a plea for some guidance as to how to achieve it. But by presenting this argument through a series of ill-conceived misadventures, the discussion is rendered light and compelling.
Palahniuk writes with a short, terse style that is always compared to Vonnegut but which also reminds me of Hemingway. He tries to write as people speak, and the often grammatically garbled, yet perfectly understandable sentences that result are given a very spontaneous feel as a consequence. The novel is obviously well conceived and well polished, but it is not tediously overworked, as most novels that try to sound literary tend to be. Although I would hesitate to call Palahniuk's style new, he does add a dimension to this sort of "free" writing that I haven't seen before and which is very refreshing.Read more ›
The main character, Victor Mancini, is many things, a con artist preying on other's sympathy, a med-school dropout, an "actor" in a colonial-era theme park, a sex addict, a loving and caring son trying to take care of his mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, as well as a descendant of Jesus Christ, or perhaps Jesus Christ himself. The other characters in the book are just as demented.
The writing style is clear and even the flashbacks to Victor's childhood are not intrusive to the story, but rather enlightening to where Victor is in his life at that moment.
Also recommended: DIARY by Chuck P. and KATZENJAMMER by McCrae.
And then the ride stopped, before the book did. Too many ludicrous twists and turns, and an approach to sex that made me want to avoid even thinking about anything to do with sex for at least a month. Grimy, degrading, stultifying, disgusting, descriptions. I know that's what Palahniuk was trying to do, but it worked altogether too well.
I'm glad I read the book, but I was very glad when I finished it, and I cannot see myself rereading it.
CHOKE offers familiar territory for Palahniuk's readers: an underachieving, insensitive and irresponsible protagonist living on the urban agonistic underbelly. Interesting plot twists and the original narrative satires of the middle class follow. Books manufactured from this mind challenge what you believe about free speech, spirituality and materialism and responsibility.
CHOKE is vulgar, the plotting awful, the characters' irritating and undeveloped and though the book entertained it didn't provoke the reader into challenging assumptions we make about the way things are as did other books.
Writing about sex and its impact on the individual, society and our intuitions is one thing. Erotica and fantasy writing is another thing. I felt like Palahniuk was trying to say something about sex by writing about it so much but instead found himself filling pages with his sexual fantasies and asinine assumptions he makes about sex and women. In that regard, it is what he says about sex thoughtlessly that is worth contemplating.
The book should be re-titled as the book deals less with the Good Samaritans he fleeces and more with sex - especially crass exploitative sex. Palahniuk fails to weave the subplots on Christianity and personal philosophy that would challenge and subvert his sexual fantasia.
The character development irritates the readers as it leaves too many questions unanswered. Leaving questions unanswered allow the reader to come up with his own conclusions about big themes if the author through his work explores each possibility with gusto.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Wonderfully elegant read. You'll be on the edge of your seat until the end.Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth
Choke made me feel strange and uncomfortable and horney and sick. Over all good read.Published 19 months ago by Sarah amelia piercey
Great novel, this is my favorite Chuck Palahniuk yet (I've read Haunted and Survivor)! I have found myself laughing out loud quite a few times and read it in a few days (normally,... Read morePublished on July 2 2014 by Radaghast
I accidentally bought this book in French. I don't read French so I have just re-purchased and will submit a review once I read the English version. Read morePublished on Nov. 29 2010 by Nicole K. Archer
Every thing is ok, excellent book, low price and fast shipping, for the story it's a palahnuik tour de force like always...Published on April 16 2010 by Alexandre Richer