Summary and book reviews of Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Choke
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  • Hardcover: May 2001,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2002,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

From the author of the international sensation Fight Club, a powerful (and hilarious) novel about love and strife between mothers and sons, the addictive power of sex, the terrors of aging, the ugly truth about historical theme parks, and much else...

Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk's controversial and blazingly original debut novel, introduced a fresh and even renegade talent to American fiction, one who has retooled the classic black humor of Terry Southern and Kurt Vonnegut for the lunacy of the millennial age. In his new novel, Choke, he gives readers a vision of life and love and sex and mortality that is both chillingly brilliant and teeth-rattlingly funny.

Victor Mancini, a dropout from medical school, has devised a complicated scam to pay for his mother's elder care: Pretend to be choking on a piece of food in a restaurant and the person who "saves you" will feel responsible for the rest of his life. Multiply that a couple of hundred times and you generate a healthy flow of checks, week in, week out. Between fake choking gigs, Victor works at Colonial Dunsboro with a motley group of losers and stoners trapped in 1734, cruises sex addiction groups for action ("You put twenty sexaholics around a table night after night and don't be surprised."), and visits his mother, whose anarchic streak made his childhood a mad whirl and whose Alzheimer's disease now hides what may be the startling truth about his (possibly divine?) parentage. An antihero for our deranging times, Victor's whole existence is a struggle to wrest an identity from overwhelming forces. His creator, Chuck Palahniuk, is the visionary we need and the satirist we deserve.

This excerpt contains explicit content that some readers may find shocking.




In the summer of 1642 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a teenage boy was accused of buggering a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey. This is real history on the books. In accordance with the Biblical laws of Leviticus, after the boy confessed he was forced to watch each animal being slaughtered. Then he was killed and his body heaped with the dead animals and buried in an unmarked pit.

This was before there were sexaholic talk therapy meetings.

This teenager, writing his fourth step must've been a whole barnyard tell-all.

I ask, "Any questions?"

The fourth-graders just look at me. A girl in the second row says, "What's buggering?"

I say, ask your teacher.

Every half hour, I'm supposed to teach another herd of fourth-graders some shit nobody wants to learn, like how to start a fire. How to carve an apple-head doll. How to make ink out of black ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Book - Don McLeese

Even though the author's excesses and repetitions occasionally grate on the reader's nerves, it's hard not to love a guy whose bordello of the subconscious spawns hypno lap dances with the likes of Emily Dickinson and Eleanor Roosevelt.

L.A. Weekly

Palahniuk's language is urgent and tense, touched with psychopathic brilliance, his images dead-on accurate....[He] is an author who makes full use of the alchemical powers of fiction to synthesize a universe that mirrors our own fiction as a way of illuminating the world without obliterating its complexity.

San Francisco Examiner

Palahniuk displays a Swiftian gift for satire, as well as a knack for crafting mesmerizing sentences that loom with stark, prickly prose and repetitive rhythms.

Newsday

Palahniuk is one of the freshest, most intriguing voices to appear in a long time. He rearranges Vonnegut's sly humor, DeLillo's mordant social analysis, and Pynchon's antic surrealism (or is it R. Crumb's?) into a gleaming puzzle palace all his own.

Library Journal

His writing is as good and as funny as ever, and like many other Palahniuk characters, Victor is quite memorable. Some readers may be shocked and even repulsed by much of the subject matter here.

Reader Reviews
Melissa

Down and Dirty
Only 2 of the participating 4 members of our book club would read this one. They were turned off by the vulgarity of the first part of the book. While I must say I was initially uncomfortable with it, I understand the necessity in the language in ...   Read More

Mattie

Fantastic
the thing i like about chuck palahniuk's writing is his dark and perverse humor. i loved fight club and invisible monsters. choke did not let me down. it's something you have to read and have an open mind about. it's intriguing and addictive.

jaydilla

Mr. Palahnuik's novels often examine the pychosis that accompanies everyday people living ordinary lives. Fight Club examined the psychosis of violence in young men who find, not satisfaction, but rather, alienation and rage in conforming to the ...   Read More

morphion

Having never read any other works of Palahniuk, I was not what you might call prepared for Choke. Being 15 years of age, I was beginning to grow accustomed to novels that brought up strange, disturbing concepts and images, but in relation to Choke, ...   Read More

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