Saturday, October 25, 2008


Chuck Palahniuk, one of todays contemporary American writers, known for his book Fight Club which was subsequently made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. 

I just finished reading one of his novels called Choke. Now if you have never read a Palahniuk book, and you would like to, i must inform you that they are certainly not G rated. They are in fact quite graphic and sometimes contain a lot of violence and sexual activity. I am personally a huge fan of his work so it doesn't bother me, plus i am in a pre-dental program at college so im am not afraid to get my "hands dirty" so to speak. Choke is not his best work, but enjoyable none the less, and it is also short and sweet at just 293 pages. 

The book is basically about a sex addict named Victor Mancini who is going through somewhat of a crisis. He has dropped out of medical school and is now working at a colonial re-enactment town named Colonial Dunsboro where everyone who works there is basically a degenerate failure at life just like him, and one of those degenerates is his best friend Denny who spends most of his time in the stocks which if you may or may not not is the equivalent to a colonial holding cell except it is in the town square, it is mad of wood and you put your head and arms into holes and it locks you into place bent over for everyone to point, laugh, and harass you. Denny spends most of his time there because the idea of the town is to be as authentic as possible so everytime he hums a song that is on the radio or says dude or smokes weed or has a modern t-shirt on under his colonial dress, he get put in the stocks. 

Anyway back to Victor, he is going through somewhat of a crisis because his mom is in a nursing home and he can't afford to keep her alive with his shit job, so he decides to go to fancy restaurants and pretends to choke on his food until someone saves him. The idea behind this is that people thrive on being someone's hero and they will never forget the person they saved. Basically it completes the persons life and they feel whole, like they actually have a purpose in life, which somehow after he is "rescued" Victor delivers a sob story that make the person feel like they have to do everything in their power to make his life better, which leeds to them sending him whatever money they can spare. Now after doing this at every restaurant in his area, you can imagine that the money is flowing in. But this is where i sort of lost some interest in the book because it was sort of far fetched, in other words i don't think that would work in real life but i guess that is why this is considered a fictional novel.

Sex addicts are pretty funny people if you where to look at them through a two-way mirror, which is why i think Palahniuk chose to write the book about one. Victor the sex addict has a sex scene in just about every other chapter of the book which adds to the hilarity of the book because sex addict don't have just plain sex, they do it in crazy ways, for example one of Victors many partners has a fantasy of being raped but not really raped so she asks him to climb through her window with a ski mask and a knife and rape her but not really rape her. Just make it seem as if he is aggressive and has absolute power over her but it ends up that Victor does it all wrong and fucks everything up so she gets pissed off and makes him beat off while she plays with herself  so as you can imagine, Victor does not like this and he ends up spooging all over her favorite bed covers. I thought this was hilarious because sex addicts just can't have normal sex, but don't get me wrong it is a serious problem that many people suffer from and if you have this problem you should seek help.

Along with all of his problems between work and his mother and his sex life, he meets the doctor who was assigned to care for his mother named Doctor Paige Marshall. The problem with Doctor Marshall is that she is almost too good to be true, and Victor doesn't see her as an object like he does every other girls he sleeps with, he actually feels a connection and love for her. This becomes more prevalent of an issue when she presents him with a dilemma, that is, his mother will die if he does not get her a feeding tube because the Alzheimer's disease has made her basically forget how to eat, and seeing as how he can barely afford to keep her there to begin with, this feeding tube is way out of the budget, so she comes up with another solution which is to sleep with her for procreation purposes only in order to use stem cells to regenerate her brain cells from the unborn fetus. But now that Victor has this love interest in her, he for some reason can't not perform when it comes to sleeping with her.

One thing i really liked about this book was the way Palahniuk wrote about a child who was, one can assume, Victor and how the child's mother like Victor was a degenerate who spent her life in and out of prison for various crimes, and every time she got out, she would kidnap the child back from whatever foster home or adoptive family he was with, and of course the child would think nothing of it because as Palahniuk put it, he was a "stupid little boy" and so it went. The boy basically learned all of these life lessons from his mother who of course was making everything up as they ran from all of the authorities who where after them. Although i like the way it was written i again get this feeling of how utterly impossible these situations where. The mother would get out of prison and some how find out exactly where in the country her kid was and then kidnap him by a secret message that the kid would use as a cue, for example a fire alarm being pulled or a certain name being read over the PA system of whatever building they where in. but again it is a fiction novel so i guess anything is possible.

Victor's friend Denny is as screwed up as Victor only his problem is alcoholism so he begins to collect rocks for everyday that he is sober and now that he was kicked out of his house, he moves in with Victor and fills up his house with rock to the point that there are rocks in the tub and freezer and everywhere. So one day while digging for rocks Denny tells Victor that he has a piece of land left to him from his dead relative so they begin to put the rocks there and Denny begins building something. No one knows what it is but i guess this is therapeutic for Denny. 

To add to Victor's long list of problems, his mother's diary contains all of his life secrets including who he really is but it is in Italian so he obviously cant read it but Dr. Marshall is apparently fluent in Italian so she reads it for him and convinces him that he is the son of Christ so this leads him to form some sort of a God complex and leads him to think he can perform miracles and heal people.

After all of this, Victor kills his mother because she loses the motor skills that give her the ability to chew and swallow so she chokes on chocolate pudding and dies. Dr. Marshall comes in and reveals a secret to Victor which i will not reveal because i will leave it up to you read it for your self. So in the end Victor leaves us with, "We can spend our lives letting the world tell u who we are. Sane or insane, Saint or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Let our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves, And maybe it's our job to invent something better." 

I would personally give this book a 7 out of 10 and although i really enjoyed the read, i felt that some of the concepts where a little farfetched but well written and very funny, and i would agree that Palahniuk is very comparable with author Kurt Vonnegut in that he picks these thin ice topics and makes them funny yet serious at the same time.

thanks for reading.

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