Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke

This story, told first person from the perspective of a sex addict (Victor Mancini), tells of Victor’s struggles to gain an identity, to deal with his mother, and to understand his role in the world (or lack of). Victor pays for his sick mother’s $3000-a-month care by working for $6/h at a historical theme park and choking nightly in restaurants, after which his saviors send him money for whatever problems he tells them he has (rent, electricity, etc.).

In the jacket blurb for this book, Victor is called an “anti-hero for our deranging times”; I think that is a perfect description. He’s a med school drop-out, a bum, a sex addict, and a bastard, all of which are conditions that our society propogates in one way or another.

Although it took a little longer for me to get into this book than Fight Club (I found the first chapter a little excessive in its criticism), I was soon just as enamored. The development of Victor and the other characters is superb, and very realistic. The writing style seemed to reflect Victor’s training as a doctor, succinct and full of medical jargon and pessimistic diagnoses. The medical jargon provided either a flinch or a laugh, depending on the situation, but was always entertaining. When you read Palahniuk’s works, it doesn’t seem like you are reading about the viewpoints of some middle-aged satirist; it seems like you are in fact reading an autobiography of the main character, and the views expressed may not be Palahniuk’s at all.

Like Fight Club, this book is jarring and shocking, and not recommended for the faint of heart. Although I love this book, I found the sex a little excessive, but it served its purpose in the story’s development. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoyed Fight Club and to anyone that wants to read something different from all the other “normal” junk being published right now. The squeamish need not apply.