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Choke – Book Review

Home > Adelaide > Literary | Books and Writing
by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published March 23rd 2012
Victor Mancini: sex addict, Jesus Christ, orphan, Oedipus complex, 18th century workman, medical school drop-out, soother of the elderly, worst best friend, serial choker, con artist.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk (2001) follows Victor Mancini and his seemingly meaningless life of casual sex, deceit and visiting his terminally ill mother, as characters from her past. Victor is a self-proclaimed sex addict, but he doesn't really see this as a problem and has been stuck on 'step four' of his twelve-step recovery program for longer than he can remember.

Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
Choke - Chuck Palahniuk

It's obvious that Victor is searching for some sort of meaning in his life, but is reluctant to embrace the fact that he, like everyone else, is capable of good will and emotions, and only sees himself as a 'bad' person with ill intentions, something that is violently evident in his recollections of childhood with his eccentric mother.

A quote from Choke - 2001
A quote from Choke - 2001

Victor is everybody and nobody all at once. From a sex addict to not being able to have intercourse with someone he believes he cares about, from being a 'bad' person to being 'Jesus Christ,' having an Oedipus complex to being an orphan, living in the past and present times, being hated yet loved by the elderly and being numerous characters from his mother's life, it's no wonder Victor has problems. Big problems.

Victor struggles day by day but it's not the same for readers. Readers will find themselves intrigued (as well as repulsed, I suppose) by Victor's persona/s, the unusual circumstances he finds himself in and his never-ending philosophical life-meaning comments. And at the end of the day, I suppose, like Victor, we're all just trying to find ourselves too.

Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk

The end of the novel is satisfying, as the ending to all Chuck Palahniuk novels seem to be. Of course, in his novels, you don't get the standard 'happily ever-after' treatment that so many writers like to bestow upon their characters (and readers), but the ending does bring with it a sort-of resolution and feels rounded and resolute. I'm not going to tell you what it is. You'll need to find that out for yourselves.
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Cost: $19.95 for a paperback copy at QBD online.
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