Chuck Palahniuk – Choke

Title: Choke
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Year: 2001

The most remarkable thing about Chuck Palahniuk is that he has managed to write a book which I consider to be among the best I’ve ever read, at the same time as that book has been turned into a film I also consider among the best I’ve ever watched. Of course, I talk about Fight Club. After that, I have read two other works by the same author (Diary and Stranger than Fiction), and although none of them have been as great as that first book I read, vestiges of that ingenuity have still been present. Picking up Choke, I certainly didn’t expect to find a masterpiece such as Fight Club, but I did certainly expect to find traces of that greatness.

Choke is a highly unusual story in many ways, not only because the main character, Victor Mancini, is a sex addict who prowls recovery programs in order to find inspiration and sex partners, but also because it’s written by Chuck Palahniuk. No other author would, or indeed could, create a story around a person like Victor, about how he tries to keep his sick mother alive (though he doesn’t want to cure her; that would mean that he lost the feeling that he was needed), about how his equally deranged friend Denny collects rocks for no apparent purpose and how he fakes choking on food in several posh restaurant every evening so as to live off the generous donation of the people who save him and now feel responsible for his life. But Chuck Palahniuk can.

It is a miracle that this novel is so interesting and so hard to stop reading as it is, and it is entirely due to Palahniuk’s anarchic and unchained imagination and language. He follows few norms and breaks taboos everywhere he can. Most of the time, his style his highly effective and sometimes even beautiful. However, sometimes he overdoes it, reiterating a key phrase just a few times too often. Also, I think that, on the whole, there is too many weird characters, to much bizarre sex and just about nothing normal to cling to. This would have been okay if the weirdness was varied, but at times I find it repetitive and dull. Still, all things taken into account, I find this book highly entertaining, thought-provoking and skillfully written. However, this is a book I am sure that most people would regard as too weird and too deviant, so I hesitate to recommend it, even though I will give it four snails.

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  1. Caroline’s avatar

    I agree, since I did find it a bit too weird and deviant. I like your cover though, it suits the story much better than the one I have.

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  2. Martin’s avatar

    Vi tycker ju ungefär samma sak om boken. Det ska bli intressant att se vad du tycker om filmen. Jag gillade den i alla fall.

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