Choke is Chuck Palahniuk‘s fourth (great!!!) novel. It tells the story of Victor Mancini, who is a more or less recovering sex addict. His mother is dying, because she forgot how to swallow or to eat in general. To pay her hospital bills, Victor pretends to be choking in restaurants, so that his saviours will feel responsible for him.
The whole thing is told in episodes, alternating between current events and Victor’s memories of his childhood, which he spent mostly with foster parents as his mum was found unfit to raise a child (and most definitely rightly so).
Not the actual cover of the book I own, which takes home the prize of the worst application of neon colours.
There’s a lot that can be discussed about Choke. I think it would be a perfect book for a really cool book club. Palahniuk includes many symbolical levels to describe the major themes – Victor’s relationship with his mother, and the in Palahniuk novels ever present struggle for meaning through rebellion.
Victor’s mum keeps trying to hammer one message home to him:
I don’t want you to just accept the world as it’s given,” she said.
She said, “I want you to invent it. I want you to have that skill. To create your own reality. Your own set of laws. I want to try and teach you that.”
Ultimately, I’m pretty sure she succeeds for a while. But only for a while.
Palahniuk’s writing is impeccable, as usual. And although the theme’s grave, he never loses his sense of humour. Really, the book’s funny.
Again, I’m reduced to a blubbering fan girl. Here have another quote to see the awesomeness yourself.
More and more, for the stupid little kid, that was the idea…
That if enough people looked at you, you’d never need anybody’s attention ever again.
That if someday you were caught, exposed, and revealed enough, then you’d never be able to hide again. There’d be no difference between your public and your private lives.
That if you coul acquire enough, accomplish enough, you’d never want to own or do another thing.
That if you could eat or sleep enough, you’d never need more.
That if enough people loved you, you’d stop needing love.
That you could ever be smart enough.
That you could someday get enough sex.
The movie version, which just came out or will come out shortly (depending on where you live) stars Anjelica Huston and Sam Rockwell.