Sunday, May 17, 2009

57. Choke – Chuck Palahniuk

May 2007
History: Published in 2001, much of Palahniuk’s research on Choke was conducted with total strangers at the gym and sexual addiction groups
Plot: This book follows Victor Mancini and his friend Denny through a few months of their lives with frequent flashbacks to the days when Victor was a child. Victor grew up while going from one foster home to another. Victor's mother was found to be unfit to raise Victor. Several times throughout his childhood, his mother would kidnap him from his various foster parents. They would eventually be caught and he would again be remanded over to the government child welfare agency.
In the present day setting of the book, Victor is now a man in his mid-twenties who left medical school in order to find work to support his feeble mother who is now in a nursing home. He cannot afford the care that his mother is receiving so he resorts to being a con man. He consistently goes to various restaurants and purposely causes himself to choke mid-way through his meal, luring a "good Samaritan" into saving his life. He keeps a detailed list of everyone who saves him and sends them frequent letters about fictional bills he is unable to pay. The people feel so sorry for him that they send him cards and letters asking him about how he's doing and even continue to send him money to help him with the bills.
While growing up, Victor's mother taught him numerous conspiracy theories and obscure medical facts which both confused and frightened him. This and his constant moves from one home to another have left Victor unable to form lasting and stable relationships with women. Victor therefore finds himself getting sexual gratification from women in sexual addiction support groups.
Review: Choke is just the simple story of a pathetic man, Victor Mancini, who�s addicted to sex: hand jobs, simulated rape, objects inserted into the anus, and of course, good old-fashioned intercourse. Our society likes to believe that sex should be used only as a tool for procreation and/or for bringing two people who love each other closer together. Choke shows us the gritty truth; Largely unerotic, the paint-by-numbers act of sex seems to drive Victor away from women instead of bringing him closer to them, and vice versa.
Opening Line: “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.”
Closing Line: “Where we’re standing right now, in the ruins in the dark, what we build could be anything.”
Quotes: “Here in your mind you have complete privacy. Here there's no difference between what is and what could be.”
‘It's pathetic how we can't live with the things we can't understand. How we need everything labeled and explained and deconstructed.’
Rating: Mediocre.

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