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on 5 February 2009
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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on 20 October 2003
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. Palahniuk has a way with words and knows how to create a very dark world that none of us have ever seen. Again, this novel is not for the weak and sensitive. If you liked "Fight Club," or any of the other novels by Palahniuk, chances are you will enjoy this one as well. While it may not be one I'm going to read over and over again, it is one I am glad that I took the time to read.
Sorry that this review is so short, and believe me, I'd LOVE to tell you more. However, this is a book in which you must be careful how you describe it. If you give too much away, then you just might ruin it for the reader. I feel I have given the right amount of information that you need to know. The great thing about this novel is even after reading the back of the cover, you still don't know where this story is going to go, until it sucks you right in, whether you're ready or not.
"End" isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.
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on 9 August 2005
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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VINE VOICEon 5 October 2008
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. Similarly, his use of metaphor could only be missed by the most naïve of observers: Mancini's sex-addicted best friend Denny starts collecting rocks in an attempt to achieve 'sobriety', and ends up building something much bigger than he ever anticipated. But therein lies the beauty and, indeed, the artistry of Palahniuk's work, and of Choke in particular. By delivering his ideas in bite-size chunks, he gets the reader thinking on much grander scale and before you know it you'll be pondering Michel Foucault's theories on the connection between knowledge and power without even realising.

Top stuff.

Matt Pucci
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on 15 June 2016
Awesome isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.
This book, as with all of Chucks books, stays in with his unique writing style is captivating as always. The main character and his struggle to let the world define him, while also trying to continue with his want to be needed is what kept me reading obsessively.
This is definitely one of his best, a true show of his brilliance as a writer.
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on 4 September 2001
Yet another refreshingly original, utterly compelling and original literary work.
The author surrounds you with a cast of odd, surreal, but somehow relatable characters, and the most unusual story line you'll ever come across.
If you want to read a book that leaves you feeling empty, hopeless, and fulfilled then Choke is for you. And I can guarantee - you'll never look at chestnuts in the same way again.
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The book begins with this warning: "If you're going to read this, don't bother." This book "is a stupid story about a stupid little boy." And many should follow that advice. The book revels in sexual addiction, fantasies, and mental illness in a way that few will find a happy experience. The story itself is very self-indulgent, because the core theme of the book did not need to be so filled with unpleasant scenes and language. I graded down the book for the degree that this takes place in ugly thoughts and deeds that were not essential to the story's development.
On the other hand, the character development of Victor Mancini, the anti-hero in Choke, is masterful. Mr. Palahniuk has taken on quite a challenge, and pulled it off very well. As someone who loves character development, I was impressed.
If you enjoy the type of humor in the book, savage parodies of our sex-symbol-filled society, you will find yourself laughing aloud in many places. My favorite was the section about hypnosis.
The novel evolves through an alternating combination of flashback and narration of what is occuring in the current time. Obviously mixed in with the currrent narration are fantasies of an extreme nature, usually involving sexual relations. The flashbacks relate to a little boy whose Mother moves erratically in and out of his life.
Victor Mancini is a drop out from medical school who now works at Colonial Dunsboro where he pretends to be an Irish indentured servant from the 18th century. His Mother, Ida, is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's, and Victor is her guardian. Since the $6 per hour he makes at Colonial Dunsboro doesn't pay for much nursing home care, he supplements his income by pretending to choke in restaurants. He does this with great panache until someone saves him. The grateful hero often wants to stay in touch, often sending some money to help Victor out. Do this often enough, and you can pay for nursing home care.
However, it's complicated because his Mother doesn't quite recognize him any more, and she's stopped eating. What should he do?
Much of the story development will strike you as needless repetition, yet it is all carefully calculated . . . so be patient. If you make it all the way to the end, you will like the book and the story much better. In fact, you may find that you will want to read the book a second and third time to rethink what you believed during your first reading. Pay close attention as you go.
After you read this story, you definitely should think about why you do what you do. How much of it is simply a cry for love? Can you find better ways to earn and enjoy love? Perhaps. It's worth exploring.
May you enjoy even more love than you give. Be generous!
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on 19 March 2016
When you read a Chuck Palahniuk book, you know what you’re getting yourself into – something awesome, with an alternative twist. Here, we follow the exploits of a guy called Victor Mancini as he wheedles out a living, largely through working at a historical re-enactment theme park or by pretending to choke in restaurants. Palahniuk’s take on this latter profession is interesting – in some ways, Mancini sees himself as performing a vital public service, bringing meaning to people’s lives by allowing them to ‘save’ him. Of course, getting regular cheques through the mail from his saviours, who are looking to continue to save themselves, also helps.

There are plenty of fun little plot devices here, including the idea that Mancini might be the second coming of Christ, after being cloned from Christ’s fossilised foreskin. Like I said, in many ways this is similar to a lot of Palahniuk’s other work – it’s weird, and I like that. And this is just the core of the story line – there are plenty of other weird things going on to keep you entertained, and it’s definitely the sort of book that will keep you turning the pages.

For me, the difficult thing to decide here is whether I’d recommend this over other Palahniuk books – so far, I probably would. I’d say it has an edge over Fight Club and isn’t quite as good as Rant, but the good thing about reading Palahniuk’s work is that it doesn’t really matter which book that you read, because they’re all good and they all make you think. In the end, everyone is different, but if nothing else, this book has the potential to change your life. Go!
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on 12 August 2002
I have read all Palahniuks books, and this is by far his most accomplished. Discarding the nihilistic edge of his previous efforts, this book is in turn wierd, cringeworthy, hilarious, disgusting yet amazingly life-affirming.
Palahniuks writing is so insightful and darkly humorous that I needed to read it over almost as soon as I finished, just to recap the many brilliant moments.
This is a fantastic book. Read it at once!
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on 1 November 2007
This book is not going to be for everyone, the way McCrae's "Katzenjammer" is not, or even the works of Sedaris. The humor is unique and while Mr. P has a great sense of humor, he's also capable of great darkness. As with all his works, they're wound around a character who is the very definition of strange. "Choke" was my first Palahnuik novel, but it certainly won't be my last.
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