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"In America, if your addiction isn't always new and improved, you're a failure"

  • Nov 8, 2008
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Victor Mancini is a sexaholic who dropped out of medical school to care for his psychotic mother, now in an assisted living facility. The story, told in first-person by Victor, begins with a warning not to read the rest of the book.

Victor then accounts the tale of his life, liberally interspersed with flashbacks to the times his mother broke out of prison or asylums to steal him back. Victor's best friend is a self-abuser who collects rocks to keep him in recovery. They both work in a Colonial-Era theme park, playing roles of servants and nobodies who more often than not wind out in the stocks at the village center.

Victor finances his mother's care by pretending to choke in restaurants. Once "saved" by a fellow human, he has found that people will offer money to keep him on his feet. He keeps an account of the names and dates from which different people "saved his life", and occupies his spare time sending thank-you notes to the hundreds of people he has scammed this way.

A strange relationship develops between Victor and his mother's doctor, Paige Marshall. Of course, Victor will discover that Dr. Marshall has extreme oddities of her own.

'Choke' is filled to the brim with oddities. One could almost describe it as having "too much information", but Victor is relentless in his descriptive narrative of comparisons and discoveries. From sexaholics to the insanities of the "nursing homes", old-people's diseases and hallucinations, behind-the-scenes accounts of the recovery meetings, and Victor's own recollections of his childhood, 'Choke' is one messed-up book.

Dude, if you like the bizarre, the psychotic, the deranged, the loony, the batty, and love to cheer for the lunatic protagonist, then you will love Palahniuk. 'Choke' is an amazing stream of meanderingly meaningless and subtly delirious mind-farts from the twisted brain of one Victor Mancini. And if you think he's bad, wait till you meet his mother.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

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More Choke (Chuck Palahniuk book) reviews
review by . December 10, 2008
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 …
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.
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … 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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