Classic Nada is a series wherein we share lost articles from our first ten years, 1997-2007, so that we may simultaneous recall and mock our former selves. For a short time we thought we were smart enough to review books as well as albums. (Incidentally, you read a lot of books and want to review them for us write to editor (at) nadamucho (dot) com.)
By Chuck Palahniuk
Review by Sonja Oliver
The first chapter of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Choke” informs you the main character, Victor Mancini, “isn’t somebody brave and kind and dedicated. He isn’t anybody you’re going to fall in love with.” And you know what? He’s right. You spend half your time outright hating Mancini, and the other half just feeling sorry for the pathetic little asshole. Yep. One of those characters you just love to hate.
“Choke” follows the story of the most lowly of scam artists. Victor is a man who pretends to choke on food in order to garner sympathy from his rescuers who continue to send him money to supplement his wages working at a colonial theme park. His delusional mother lives in a care facility that he visits weekly, pretending to be anyone but her detested son. During the time Victor isn’t choking, posing as an indentured servant or visiting his addled mother, he’s attending workshops for sex addicts in order to screw women he knows are an easy target.
Palahniuk, also the author of “Fight Club,” creates some suitably comparable vivid and tormented characters in “Choke,” and encompasses such subjects as sacrilegious sexual acts, how to find free beer in neighborhood yards and what happens when you haven’t taken a shit for a very, very, very long time. Every page that’s turned evokes either a grimace or a chuckle, but both reactions continue to mean the same result for the reader: hours of lost time due to not being able to stop reading.
Few writers would attempt to combine dark humor with some of the more realistic situations in this book, but Palahniuk does…to mesmerizing effect. Choke is a book worth purchasing and odds are, you’ll read it twice and then convince a friend to do the same.