Summary and book reviews of Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Choke
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  • First Published:
    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. (Excerpt contains explicit content).

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

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.

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.

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

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.

Sy'rah

Palahniuk's novel Choke is both thouroughly encahnting and repulsive. His quick and blunt prose is just enough to make some people sqeamish, but if you stay along for the ride, you won't be disappointed. The plot twists that ensue inevitably make ...   Read More

Thereader

I enjoyed this book... Plane and simple if you can stomach this book you will find yourself not being able to put it down. If you dont blush every time someone mentions sex you should be just fine..

Amy

Chuck has his own style and wit that accompany his thoughts and ideas of many of his books. If only people could come to terms with who they are and what could be changed for the better instead of hiding everything in their own back pocket, maybe ...   Read More

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