Genre: Fiction, crazy plot twists (Is that a genre? It is now!)

Notes: If you liked Fight Club (the book or the movie), you’ll like “Choke.” It has the same degree of people with unsolvable, completely psychotic problems.

Review: Chuck Palahniuk needs therapy.  I’m convinced.  I’ve read a couple of his books, and they’re all completely fucked up.  Fight Club?  Yup.  Invisible Monsters?  Without a doubt.  Haunted?  Beyond fucked up.  Need I go on?  Chuck Palahniuk has to be insane.

But maybe that’s why his books are so good.  I love Palahniuk’s books.  I love his writing style. In a workshop class in college, my teacher told us to pick an author we liked and attempt to copy his style.  I chose Palahniuk.  Obviously my half-baked copy didn’t touch his style, but the fact remains that Palahniuk hold a spot at one of the authors I most admire.

This novel, Choke, follows Victor Mancini.  Victor Mancini is a poor sexaholic and struggles to pay his dying mother’s hospital bill by working at a historical village a la Williamsburg.  And choking.  It starts innocently enough, but builds into a sort of second job for Victor.  He goes to restaurants, chokes on purpose, and waits for someone to apply the Heimlich maneuver and save his life.  Preferably someone rich.  Most of the time he can get a check out of it.  $50 here, $50 there.  The “heroes” keep in touch because they feel somehow responsible for his life.  Victor wouldn’t have survived without them.

Victor’s choking episodes come from some misguided attempt to feel loved.  To feel needed.  Victor allows people to save him so, for a brief moment, he can feel loved.  And he give the people who save him a moment they will remember forever.  They can be heroes.   He also searches for love in other ways.  He admits to being a sexaholic and goes to meetings, but mostly so he can bang the girls at the meetings.  Wednesday nights mean Nico.  Friday nights mean Tanya.  Sundays mean Leeza.

And like every good messed up personality, there are family issues to deal with.  It seems like girls have daddy issues, and Victor Mancini had mommy issues.  His mother repeatedly abandoned and found him throughout his childhood while she skipped in and out of jail.  Victor visits her in the mental care facility she lives in once a week, but she doesn’t even recognize him anymore.  And, while pretending to be other people, Victor finds out some interesting truths about his origin. Reincarnation of Jesus Christ?  Possibly.  Or something else?

Bottom Line:  Palahniuk is a genius.  I couldn’t put this book down.  Really, almost all Palahniuk’s books are worth reading.  He has this talent to make you disgusted and interested at the same time.  Highly recommend.

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