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Choke Paperback – August 26, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 752 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Victor Mancini is a ruthless con artist. Victor Mancini is a med-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 Alzheimer's-afflicted mother. Victor Mancini is a sex addict. Victor Mancini is a direct descendant of Jesus Christ. All of these statements about the protagonist of Choke are more or less true. Welcome, once again, to the world of Chuck Palahniuk.

"Art never comes from happiness." So 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 Palahniuk territory. It would be a pity to disclose the surprises of the plot, but suffice it 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 Fight Club and the other two novels under Palahniuk's belt, we get a smattering of gloriously unflinching sound bites, including this skeptical bit 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 Palahniuk 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 barely. And what's next for Victor Mancini's creator? Leave the last word to him, declaring as he does in the final pages: "Maybe it's our job to invent something better.... What it's going to be, I don't know." --Bob Michaels --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 m‚lange 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.

More from Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk's novels are wildly imaginative, with writing that is vivid, raw, and unpredictably hilarious. Visit Amazon's Chuck Palahniuk Page.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reissue edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307388921
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307388926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (752 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Lullaby, Survivor, Haunted, and Invisible Monsters. Portions of Choke have appeared in Playboy, and Palahniuk's nonfiction work has been published by Gear, Black Book, The Stranger, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
...but it's the first word that comes to mind.
Okay, with that said, I found Chuck Palahniuk's "Choke" to be a very strange, perverted, dark, and bizarre novel....but it's supposed to be. And, it's a very creative novel, despite if you love the novel or hate it.
I had read "Fight Club" after seeing the movie, and I found the novel to be just as entertaining and creative, if not more. So, I wanted to read another novel by him, so I picked this up. Wow....nothing could've EVER prepared me for this.
"Choke's" main character is Victor; a compulsive sex addict who creates heroes by purposely choking at restaurants and allowing himself to be saved. He does this to feel better about himself, and to help pay for his very sick and dying mother's medical care. And as the story and novel goes on and on, the more twisted and darker it becomes, adding up to one hell of a shocking climax.
The novel is told by the narrator, just like in"Fight Club." He still uses the same sense of thinking, the same amount of sarcasam, and the same dark humor found in "Fight Club." And yet, it's still just as refreshing. I never thought of novels told by the narrator to be all that great, until I read his work.
Again, this is not for kids, and this is not for those who get offended easily. It is a VERY sexually explict novel; I don't think I have ever read anything so sexually graphic! It's going to be one of those books where you're going to be embarrassed to read in public, fearing that somebody just might snatch it out of your hand and start reading it aloud. As intense as the sexual content is, it fits the story.
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Format: Hardcover
...but it's the first that comes to mind.
The problem with Chuck Palahniuk novels is that they do not lend themselves well to reviews. Reveal too much information, and the fragile twists and turns of the plot are destroyed, robbing the reader of the thrill one receives upon discovering these intricacies for themselves the first time. Reveal too little, and a coherent review is almost impossible, leaving the reader with a false impression of complexities and tangles which are insurmountable.
Choke is the fourth novel written by Palahniuk, a master at angry, adult male angst. Our narrator is one Mr. Victor Mancini, a med-school drop out with a mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and an addiction to sex. Like other novels such as Fight Club and Survivor, we are exposed to the dirty underbelly of a society we don't want to acknowledge exists - from prisoners who go to sexaholic meetings for sex and kinky masturbation tips to the problems bending over in the stocks of a colonial theme park creates.
However, unlike the dry sarcasm of Fight Club or the biting satire of Survivor, Choke returns to the humorous yet heart-felt writing of Invisible Monsters, and exposes us to a more humorous side of Palahniuk's nature. From Tanya and her string of plastic balls to Gwen, who insists Victor wouldn't know how to rape a woman if he tried, Palahniuk presents us with incredibly memorable characters and scenes that will have you laughing long after you've closed the book.
" `Why do I do this? Why do I always pick the guy who wants to be nice and conventional? The next thing you'll want to do is marry me.' She says, `Just one time, I'd like to have an abusive relationship. Just once!
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3 Comments 54 of 58 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've basically come to the conclusion that the first Palahniuk book you read will be your favorite. So if you haven't touched this guy yet then just pick one (well, my biased opinion would recommend Fight Club, since that was my first read), it will be fresh, a great read, and something that gets you to think. It will probably even challenge you towards more books and authors that put their books out with something to say, rather than the abundance of authors simply trying to catch your attention span long enough to get on the best seller list.
But none of Palahniuk's books ever quite matches the pure elation of my first Palahniuk (though Invisible Monsters did come quite close). Palahniuk utilizes gimmicks as his style, and while it seems fresh at first, the more of him you read the more it becomes derivative. Each book is your usual assortment of twists, shocks, catchy-phrases, classic losers, and then the surprise ending. And each time, no matter how challenging Palahniuk's theme may be, I get a little less interested. Don't let this mislead you, I'm still a fan of Palahniuk, I've read all four of Palahniuk's books, and they're always good reads. I'll be one of the first to pick up his next book, but I'm going to be hoping that it's not more of the same. Being fresh all the time eventually gets stale too.
To be fair, and to maybe give some insight as to where I'm coming from, I had the same problem with Vonnegut. Loved the first book I read by him, had practically just as much fun with my second book. The third one was enjoyable and just as quick a read as the others, but by the fourth one I was getting the hang of it and didn't really feel the need to read anymore. This basically mirrors my Palahniuk experience, though Chuck has still got me coming back for more.
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