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Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
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Choke (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Chuck Palahniuk

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9,668136299 (3.59)1 / 115
Member:karim.delgado
Title:Choke
Authors:Chuck Palahniuk
Info:Anchor (2002), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001)

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English (126)  Italian (4)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Only on occasions does the blurb on the back of a book stray from the actual narrative. But Choke for me was such an example -- we learn of Victor Mancini, a Med-school drop out who "earns" money to fund his mother's elderly care expenses by choking on food at restaurants, so that those who save his life later feel responsible for checking up on him and sending him money. You can't really argue with that sort of a synopsis; it was unlike anything I had heard of, and so I eagerly jumped to buying this book. The truth is that all of the other aspects of Victor's life (which the back cover does also mention) take more of the center stage than the scamming itself. As a reader who expected to read into the mind of a deranged character and his frauds, it was a major disappointment to find only two instances where Victor actually carried out his scheme.

Instead, we get countless of scenes showing how the self-loathing anti-hero hustles miserably at his job at a colonial theme park and visits his demented, ailing mother. Oh, and also of him carrying out a broad range of sexscapades with other sex addicts who, like him, are undergoing a 12-step addiction recovery program.

What must be respected, however, is that the character of Victor is set up wonderfully. There are flashbacks of Victor's rocky childhood, during which his mother repeatedly nabs him out of his foster homes to give him the "true" vision of life and society, as opposed to the school-taught "nonsense". A traumatizing (although oddly comforting) moment in his life where he chokes on a corn dog and is saved by his mother appears to be the subconscious starting point of Victor's scamming, which, as we discover, not only supplements him with money but also the emotional comfort he has lacked his entire life. Snarky psychoanalysis at its finest.

There is a lot to this book, which is of course the case when you have a man as brilliant as Chuck Palahniuk fleshing out the gritty, satirical scenes that he does, with a humor as sharp as a razor. Despite this being my first Palahniuk book, it wasn't hard to pick up on his ingenuity, but it is also quite clear that this is one of his weaker works. The overarching issue I had with Choke is that the story simply does not work, no matter how capable the author is. At the end of the day, how can someone collect enough money from this ludicrous scam to fund medical payments that cost 3000 dollars a month? Wouldn't word spread about his conducts? Why would someone feel so responsible for saving Victor's life that they would pay for any expense he makes up over the course of multiple years? None of this really made sense in my mind, and it is most certainly a gaping hole in the novel. Yet it is a breezy and entertaining read, so why not give it a chance. ( )
  themythbookshelf | Aug 8, 2015 |
Excellent book! I was 3/4 through before I began to sense that there was something unexpected coming ahead. Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. It was loaned to me by my future son-in-law. ( )
  Phyllis.Mann | Jul 13, 2015 |
Very long, drawn out story for a kind of lame ending. But still good, I need to watch the movie now to better appreciate it. ( )
  Ellie.Pelto | Jul 7, 2015 |
Definitely not his best. Somehow the film adaptation turned out wonderful though. ( )
  heradas | May 31, 2015 |
Is Victor the son that is a mother’s worse nightmare or is his mother a son’s worst nightmare? This is an irreverent look at a promising life driven to life on the wrong side of the tracks. Read this only if you are up to listening to one person’s adventures best left to whispers on a dark night with no one around to overhear. ( )
  | Feb 16, 2015 | edit |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Choke seizes the dirty truth disguised beneath our modern glamours and screams it loudly into your ear. You may find yourself feeling unusually militant after reading Choke – consider this a warning.
 
In Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 cult novel ''Fight Club,'' a young man escapes the emasculating boredom of modern life by indulging his violent, antisocial impulses. Victor Mancini, the narrator of Palahniuk's energetic, exasperating new book, also keeps in close touch with his inner bad boy, though what it is he's trying to escape is less clear. His operating principle is ''What would Jesus NOT do?''
 
''If you're going to read this, don't bother.'' So Chuck Palahniuk introduces the reader to Choke, showcasing the punkish style of his fourth novel from line one. The narrator, Victor Mancini, continues: ''After a couple pages, you won't want to be here,'' he warns. ''Save yourself.'' The hero's warning is the author's awkward wink, and there, in the third paragraph, you have the story's over-worked theme: salvation.
 
So ''Choke'' is an uneven but still raw and vital book, punctuated with outrageous, off-the-wall moments that work as often as not.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Lump.
Forever.
First words
If you are going to read this, don't bother.
Quotations
"Sobriety is okay enough," Denny says, "but someday, I'd like to live a life based on doing good stuff instead of just not doing bad stuff. You know?"
You could put most of these folks [in an old-people's home] in front of a mirror and tell them it's a television special about old dying miserable people, and they'd watch it for hours.
Ten times out of ten, a guy means I love this [when he says I love you].
When it comes down to a choice between being unloved and being vulnerable and sensitive and emotional, then you can just keep your love.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the novel, not the film.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385720920, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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