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Choke Paperback – 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; paperback / softback edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099422689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099422686
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's nine novels are the bestselling Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Lullaby and Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke, which was made into a film by director Clark Gregg. He is also the author of the non-fiction profile of Portland Fugitives and Refugees and the non-fiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Product Description

Amazon Review

We can more or less deduce the following of the main protagonist in Choke; Victor Mancini is a ruthless con artist. Victor Mancini is a medical school dropout who's taken a job playing an Irish indentured servant in a colonial-era theme park in order to help care for his Alzehimer's-afflicted mother. Victor Mancini is a sex addict. Victor Mancini is a direct descendant of Jesus Christ. Welcome, once again, to the world of Chuck Palahniuk.

"Art never comes from happiness" says Mancini's mother only a few pages into the novel. Given her own dicey and melodramatic style of parenting, you would think that her son's life would be chock full of nothing but art. Alas, that's not the case--in the fine tradition of Oedipus, Stephen Dedalus and Anthony Soprano, Victor hasn't quite reconciled his issues with his mother. Instead, he's trawling sexual-addiction recovery meetings for dates and purposely choking in restaurants for a few moments of attention. Longing for a hug, in other words, he's settling for the Heimlich.

Thematically, this is pretty familiar Palanhiuk territory. It would be a pity to disclose the surprises of the plot but suffice to say that what we have here is a little bit of Tom Robbins's Another Roadside Attraction, a little bit of Don DeLillo's The Day Room and, well, a little bit of Fight Club. Just as with that book and the other two novels under Palahniuk's belt, we get a smattering of gloriously unflinching sound bites, such as this sceptical slight on prayer chains: "A spiritual pyramid scheme. As if you can gang up on God. Bully him around."

Whether this is the novel that will break Palanhiuk into the mainstream is hard to say. For a fourth book, in fact, the ratio of iffy, "dude"-intensive dialogue to interesting and insightful passages is a little higher than we might wish. In the end though, the author's nerve and daring pull the whole thing off--just. And what's next for Victor Mancini's creator? Leave the last word to him, declaring as he does on the final pages: "Maybe it's our job to invent something better ... What it's going to be, I don't know." --Bob Michaels, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Palahniuk's grotesque, exaggerated portrait of American society certainly isn't pretty, but it grips like a vice all the same" (The Times)

"A wonderful writer with a raw take on modern woes" (The Face)

"Mining a dark vein opened by Bret Easton Ellis and George Saunders, Palahniuk specialises in producing nightmarish visions of American society that manage to be both repugnant and hilarious - the reckless brilliance of his imagination keeps you turning the pages" (Literary Review)

"A raw and vital book, punctuated with outrageous, off-the-wall moments" (New York Times)

"The pungent imagery, the witty twists, the chunky rhythms are great" (Financial Times)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By P. Smyth on 5 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
For those who loved FIGHT CLUB, this is probably Palahniuk's second best, and even second best is great. That, along with INVISIBLE MONSTERS and CATCH 22 are some of my favorites. That said, this novel, as with most of the author's works, does not fail to deliver.

The story is that of a sexaholic named Victor Mancini. Victor has an ill mother's whose medical bills are eating him alive. To make money he fakes choking on food in restaurants--the payoof is that the person who saves his life each time feels as if he's done something good. And of course, the money that's involved.

What struck me immediately about this novel was Palahniuk's ability to make the character so real, unlikable, yet human and with vulnerable qualities. I've only know two other books that achieved this: "She's Come Undone" and "Barring Some Unforeseen Accident," and both books are equally riveting. But "Choke" takes a lot more detours and seemingly unimportant events come together at the end.

Another amazing aspect to the author's work is that the writing style is remarkably simple and spare, yet peppered with graphic descriptions and sex. I read somewhere that the majority of readers are women, and while there are certainly some that will wamr to this book, it's really more a "guy's" book, much like "Fight Club." A cult classic, as with all of Palahniuk's work, this one will last the test of time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Tuffnell on 9 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
I can say this is the first book by Chuck Palahniuk I've read, and that it's absolutely amazing, to put it simple.
The style of writing, the way it handles everything, is unique, for what I've read any way. The story is strange, but each chapter changes situation and setting and characters, apart from the Victor Mancini, and each reveals a new part in his life.
It's an amazing story detailing one mans struggle with his sexual addictions, his dying mother and his mysterious past. One of the best books I've ever had the pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt Pucci VINE VOICE on 5 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Choke is cult author Chuck Palahniuk's fourth novel, and there's a strong case for stating that it's also his best. Never one to shy away from dealing with society's less pleasant afflictions, Palahniuk tells the story of self-confessed 'sexaholic' Victor Mancini, who, in an effort to cover the costs of his ailing mother's medical bills, cons diners into making donations by pretending to choke on a piece of food. The rationale being that the person responsible for 'saving' Mancini feels indebted to him for making their own life seem meaningful.

By cataloguing Mancini's despicable behaviour, Palahniuk makes short work of a plethora of complex, seemingly contradictory and unrelated issues, revealing the protagonist to be both a victim of his erratic mother's parenting techniques and of the inherently selfish motivations at the heart of modern American society. So far, so cynical. Thankfully, Mancini is possessed of other, more redeeming qualities which eventually enable him to break the mould, and in this respect Choke is an inspiring, inspirational novel. Furthermore, in dealing with traditionally delicate topics such as mental illness and addiction, Palahniuk succeeds by injecting a healthy dose of pathos and humour into his writing, resulting in one of the funniest and thought-provoking books to have emerged in recent years.

Choke is certainly not for everyone - the language is spectacularly simple, occasionally profane and littered with graphic depictions of lewd sexual antics, while the dialogue is markedly 'dude'-heavy. For these reasons, it will appeal primarily to men of a certain age and demographic.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Crane on 20 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Okay, with that said, I found Chuck Palahniuk's "Choke" to be a very strange, perverted, dark, and bizarre novel....but it's supposed to be. And, it's a very creative novel, despite if you love the novel or hate it.
I had read "Fight Club" after seeing the movie, and I found the novel to be just as entertaining and creative, if not more. So, I wanted to read another novel by him, so I picked this up. Wow....nothing could've EVER prepared me for this.
"Choke's" main character is Victor; a compulsive sex addict who creates heroes by purposely choking at restaurants and allowing himself to be saved. He does this to feel better about himself, and to help pay for his very sick and dying mother's medical care. And as the story and novel goes on and on, the more twisted and darker it becomes, adding up to one hell of a shocking climax.
The novel is told by the narrator, just like in"Fight Club." He still uses the same sense of thinking, the same amount of sarcasam, and the same dark humor found in "Fight Club." And yet, it's still just as refreshing. I never thought of novels told by the narrator to be all that great, until I read his work.
Again, this is not for kids, and this is not for those who get offended easily. It is a VERY sexually explict novel; I don't think I have ever read anything so sexually graphic! It's going to be one of those books where you're going to be embarrassed to read in public, fearing that somebody just might snatch it out of your hand and start reading it aloud. As intense as the sexual content is, it fits the story.
I found "Choke" to be a really entertaining and thought-provoking novel.
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