by Chuck Palahniuk
"Victor Mancini, a medical school dropout, finds a way to pay for his mother's medical care. He pretends to choke on food at high class restaurants, allowing other customers to save him. He then convinces his rescuers to send support money to him. When he's not unleashing his scam, he goes to sexual addiction recovery meetings in search of his next conquest. It's all a far cry from his day job at a theme park." (From the CD container)
Excellent isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind. The problem is that I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone. Choke is ridiculous, crude, highly offensive, and hilarious. This book will flat-out disgust a lot of readers, and I'm not sure what it says about me that I enjoyed it so much. The only other book I've read by Palahniuk is Snuff so I'm not sure if all his books are loaded with repulsive sex references and foul language, but the two I read were. And I liked them both quite a bit! Weird. Maybe when you're bombarded with it from the opening scenes, it becomes transparent and you focus on the emotional desperation and absurdity of the situations rather than what is actually being done and said.
What gave the book extra depth was an explanation from the author regarding how he came up with the idea for the book. This section is not in the print version I have but is on the audiobook. Listening to the story of his sex addicted sister-in-law, the murder of his father and his search for reason in the aftermath, I saw Choke in a completely different light. I'm surprised Palahniuk writes at all, scandalously or otherwise, and is not an inmate with a padded room somewhere.
I will without doubt be reading more Chuck Palahniuk in the future. I would tell you to read him, too, but I don't want to be responsible for the outcome. Go ahead and give Choke a shot it you're feeling crazy and don't offend easily, but don't say I didn't warn you! ;-)
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!