Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

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The 150-word Review: The average reader doesn’t have the stomach for “Choke.” Palahniuk’s a guilty pleasure, not you-just-watched-another-episode-of- The-Hills guilty, but more like you-just- jerked-off-in-your-friend’s-shower guilty, a shameful weight of self-loathing mixed with the secret glee that, no, this won’t be the last time you do something like this. It is this specific feeling Chuck Palahniuk’s after, because he’s in on the secret; he knows you can’t help yourself.

Victor Mancini warns you on the first page: his story’s just going to “piss you off.” Victor is a med-school dropout who can only picture disease on everyone around him, a sex-addict who cruises recovery meetings for action, a con man who fakes choking at upscale restaurants, and an emotional weakling who pretends he’s someone else when he visits his senile and dying mother. Victor is an unredeemable mess, but somehow, reading Palahniuk’s exhilaratingly unfettered prose, I find myself giving a damn about him.

You will enjoy this book if you are a fan of: Fight Club, repeated literary memes (See Also: stylistic trademarks, See Also: stuff that will sound cool as a voiceover), outsiders and deviants, messianic delusions, anarchic and morally inventive parents, satirical pornography, and reality’s fragile dependence on one’s perceptions.

Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): Actually Norm, the film adaptation for “Choke” will be released this September, with Sam Rockwell as Victor Mancini. (When I read the book, I could only picture Sam Rockwell as Victor. This is a perfect role for him.)

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