Choke, Chuck Palahniuk


Choke: A Novel 

Cover of "Choke"

Cover of Choke

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

First Edition: 2001

Original language: English


Author Website:

Twitter: @chuckpalahniuk


Sex addict Victor Mancini works in Colonial Dunsboro by day.  In the afternoon he cruises sex addiction meetings for dates.  By night he pretends to choke at restaurants so that a stranger can save him and be a hero.  These “heroes” then send him cards and money, which Victor uses to pay for his insane mother’s hospital bills.  On Saturday he visits his mother.  So goes another sordid tale from Palahnik…


“It seemed that moment would last forever.  That you had to risk your life to get love.  You had to get right to the edge of death to ever be saved.”

“Art never comes from happiness.”

“Picture anybody growing up so stupid he didn’t know that hope was just another phase you’ll grow out of.”

“Part of meeting these jail girls is it’s so sweet to look at your watch and know she’ll be behind bars in half an hour.”

“Beauty Industry Terrorism”

“humiliation is humiliation only when you choose to suffer.”

“Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it.”

“Just to stir the turd…”

“Tantric Architecture”

“Because sponges never have a bad day.”


Ok, even though I loved this book, I felt like I needed latex gloves to handle it sometimes.  It was that gross.  Who thinks of these things?!

But what I really love about Palahniuk is that this is gore, but it is also superb writing.  I love how everything kind of “fits.”  His books are always tight little boxes where every word and image (ok, almost every word and gory image) has a purpose that the reader finally understands in the end.  Everything leads to something, builds something, ties back to something that came before.  I love Palahniuk’s use of leitmotifs– he is really the master! And the leitmotifs actually mean something and are not just used as a superficial literary device, even though it may not seem like it at first blush.  What the reader first perceives as something superfluous always ends up developing thematic importance by the end.

Of course, the characters were bizarre and fantastic.  Ida and Denny the rock junkie were a trip.  I didn’t like Paige Marshall until the end when she says something extremely funny.  Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it…

Another thing that many people don’t notice is that this book is in second person.  It’s subtle, but especially in the beginning, there is a distinct “you” that the narrator is speaking to.