Victor Mancini has devised a complicated scam to pay for his mother's hospital care: pretend to be choking on a piece of food in a restaurant and the person who 'saves you' will feel responsible for you for the rest of their lives. Multiply that a couple of hundred times and you generate a healthy flow of cheques, week in, week out. Victor also works at a theme park with a motley group of losers, cruises sex addiction groups for action, and visits his mother, whose Alzheimer's disease now hides what may be the startling truth about his parentage.
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Victor Mancini is a ruthless con artist. Victor Mancini is a med-school dropout who's taken a job playing an Irish indentured servant in a colonial-era theme park in order to help care for his Alzheimer's-afflicted mother. Victor Mancini is a sex addict. Victor Mancini is a direct descendant of Jesus Christ. All of these statements about the protagonist of Choke are more or less true. Welcome, once again, to the world of Chuck Palahniuk.
"Art never comes from happiness." So says Mancini's mother only a few pages into the novel. Given her own dicey and melodramatic style of parenting, you would think that her son's life would be chock-full of nothing but art. Alas, that's not the case. In the fine tradition of Oedipus, Stephen Dedalus, and Anthony Soprano, Victor hasn't quite reconciled his issues with his mother. Instead, he's trawling sexual-addiction recovery meetings for dates and purposely choking in restaurants for a few moments of attention. Longing for a hug, in other words, he's settling for the Heimlich.
Thematically, this is pretty familiar Palahniuk territory. It would be a pity to disclose the surprises of the plot, but suffice it to say that what we have here is a little bit of Tom Robbins's Another Roadside Attraction, a little bit of Don DeLillo's The Day Room, and, well, a little bit of Fight Club. Just as with Fight Club and the other two novels under Palahniuk's belt, we get a smattering of gloriously unflinching sound bites, including this skeptical bit on prayer chains: "A spiritual pyramid scheme. As if you can gang up on God. Bully him around."
Whether this is the novel that will break Palahniuk into the mainstream is hard to say. For a fourth book, in fact, the ratio of iffy, "dude"-intensive dialogue to interesting and insightful passages is a little higher than we might wish. In the end, though, the author's nerve and daring pull the whole thing off--just barely. And what's next for Victor Mancini's creator? Leave the last word to him, declaring as he does in the final pages: "Maybe it's our job to invent something better.... What it's going to be, I don't know." --Bob MichaelsFrom the Inside Flap:
From the author of the international sensation Fight Club, a powerful (and hilarious) novel about love and strife between mothers and sons, the addictive power of sex, the terrors of aging, the ugly truth about historical theme parks, and much else...
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk's controversial and blazingly original debut novel, introduced a fresh and even renegade talent to American fiction, one who has retooled the classic black humor of Terry Southern and Kurt Vonnegut for the lunacy of the millennial age. In his new novel, Choke , he gives readers a vision of life and love and sex and mortality that is both chillingly brilliant and teeth-rattlingly funny.
Victor Mancini, a dropout from medical school, has devised a complicated scam to pay for his mother's elder care: Pretend to be choking on a piece of food in a restaurant and the person who "saves you" will feel responsible for the rest of his life. Multiply that a couple of hundred times and you generate a healthy flow of checks, week in, week out. Between fake choking gigs, Victor works at Colonial Dunsboro with a motley group of losers and stoners trapped in 1734, cruises sex addiction groups for action ("You put twenty sexaholics around a table night after night and don't be surprised."), and visits his mother, whose anarchic streak made his childhood a mad whirl and whose Alzheimer's disease now hides what may be the startling truth about his (possibly divine?) parentage. An antihero for our deranging times, Victor's whole existence is a struggle to wrest an identity from overwhelming forces. His creator, Chuck Palahniuk, is the visionary we need and the satirist we deserve.
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Book Description Vintage Books USA, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099535254