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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Choke (Chuck Palahniuk book) » User review

A truly bizarre, satirical book that'll leave you begging for more

  • Dec 10, 2008
  • by
This is hands down one of my favorite books of all time.  I first read Choke well over five years ago, yet somehow, I keep finding myself telling people about this book, whether it's a close friend or someone who I just met, something in our conversation always triggers my memory of Choke and I can't help but describe it to them.  It usually goes...

Choke is a book about a twenty-something year old sex-addicted, ex-med student named Victor, who had to drop out of med school to pay for his delusional mother's nursing home.  As a child, Victor chokes on a hot dog in public, causing many people to rush to his aid.  Unfortunately, that was the most love and attention he had ever gotten, so as an adult, he goes to fancy restaurants pretending to choke on food, and looks for rich people to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on him.  In turn, he makes them feel like heroes.

Well, now it's apparently how Choke came to be called so, and yes, I realize that the premise may sound odd and a bit, well, lowbrow, but trust me, it gets so much better and deeper than this.

Aside from being a reenacter of life in Colonial America, Victor also pays his bills by sending his "heroes" holiday and thank you cards, in which he not only expresses his gratitude towards them, but complains about money woes as well.  As a result, his "heroes" send him hefty checks.   Throughout all this, Victor's roommate/best friend becomes infatuated with a stripper named Cherry Daiquiri and Victor begins a sexual relationship with a woman who he believes is his mother's nurse.  But things really take a turn for the strange and truly bizarre when it is revealed that Victor might actually be the second coming of Christ.

Like all the other Chuck Palahniuk books, the plots start off bizarre, and they always end up having an even more bizarre climatic ending; it's never what you expect it to be.  The plot becomes complex, yet it is still an easy read.  Deeply satirical, it leaves the reader with a I-just-got-punched-really-really-hard-in-the-gut-and-now-I-feel-all-numb-yet-I-want-to-read-this-book-again-and-again-and-again feeling.  It's masochistic, I tell ya.

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March 10, 2009
I read it! It's great! Chuck's style sort of reminds me of Mark Leyner, but "Choke" is much darker than Leyner's works. Palahniuk also is a distant nephew of Stanley Elkin ("George Mills," "The Living End," etc.), but Chuck employs a much more "journalistic" style and never lets his foot off the gas. Thanks for the review! Now I've got two more Palahniuk books sitting on the table, ready to be read!
March 10, 2009
I'm glad you had a chance to check it out, you should write a review! And what other two Palahniuk books are you planning on reading?
March 11, 2009
Someday I shall write a review. Alas, today is not that day! The other Chuck books I snagged are "Rant" and "Lullaby." I'll probably read all of his books as quickly as I can. That's my typical MO once I find an author I like. I can hardly wait! Thanks for the tip, and thanks for reminding me about Trader Joe's. I've been trading cash for foodstuffs there since your review. Joe should be sending you kickbacks.
March 11, 2009
Awesome! Once you're done with those two, I highly recommend "Monster"!
March 12, 2009
Cool! "Monster" is in the queue.
March 04, 2009
Devora, Thanks for sharing this review and this definately looks like a book I would want to check out.
February 27, 2009
@sdownie Yes, I've seen the movie! It was good, but as usual, I prefer the book; there are many awesome details in the book that didn't make its way into the movie. I suggest reading the book before seeing the movie, the movie will just make more sense! You should Lunch them after you do, I'd love to see someone elses take on them! :)
February 26, 2009
Have you seen the movie? I think it was just released on DVD? I haven't yet read the book, so I'm looking forward to both book and flick!
December 15, 2008
I'm a huge Chuck Palahniuk fan as well! I've read all of his books, and like I said, Choke is my favorite, though the others follow very closely behind. I love Invisible Monsters as well.
More Choke (Chuck Palahniuk book) reviews
review by . June 24, 2010
Choke is the tale of Victor, a sex addict whose life is in several ruts. He is tied to a dead-end job in a colonial theme park, and his mother is the latter stages of dementia and thinks he is one of several dead lawyers she once knew. To supplement his tiny income he pretends to choke in restaurants, receiving checks from those who eventually save him (and subsequently feel responsibility for his life). As his mother’s life begins to fade away, we learn why Victor is the way he is, and Victor …
review by . August 11, 2010
I laughed the entire way through this book.  Being a Palahniuk fan, I know in advance that a reader without a strong stomach, seeking chic lit, is not the right reader for this (or any of Chuck's books,) but was somewhat disappointed in this one compared to his other titles.  All in all, I would recommend this book.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
I read this in high school and really loved it. I think I might like it a little less if I read it now, though. It's funny and does come up with a point, but I think the alienation of the characters would annoy me now.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
Not my favorite Chuck Palahniuk book as I find the main character somewhat less endearing than the usual misguided protagonist of Chuck's works, but nonetheless another fantastic example of his penchant for strange factoids, odd points of view, interestingly applied researched, and, of course, many different themes cavorting around with one another and occasionally crashing into one another face first.
review by . July 08, 2010
 This is the first book I ever read by this author and although it was thought provoking I’m pretty sure it will be my last. The story was disconnected which there was a warning label for so I guess that should have come as no surprise. The characters are highly un relatable, at least to me as a person. How many people do you know who are semi crazy and were kidnapped as children? Oh none? How surprising! I don’t know what his goal was in writing this book, but I would gladly like …
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
My favorite! I love this author
review by . June 27, 2010
Another twisted tale from Chuck Palahniuk, Choke gives us possibly my favorite anti-hero from any of his previous novels. Victor, a Medical School drop out and now "historical interpreter" plays on the emotions and dependency of others by nearly killing himself night after night in various eateries across town. In return for their hero status? Money. Victors misadventures all tie into paying for his absolutely nutty but fascinating Mother to stay in a rest home. With hilarious dialogue …
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Palahniuk's dark comedies make you take a hard look at reality. not as strong as Fight Club
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
a totally insane & in-depth look into the lives of people you would never know (some may never care) about.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Palahniuk fans rejoice!
About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #4
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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About this book


Choke is a 2001 novel by American author Chuck Palahniuk. 

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 ofChokeare 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 ...

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ISBN-10: 0385720920 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780385720922 (pbk.)
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Genre: Horror, Strange Fiction
Publisher: Anchor (June 11, 2002)
Date Published: (June 11, 2002)
Format: Paperback: 304 pages, Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.2 inches
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