Choke

Paperback | June 11, 2002

byChuck Palahniuk

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Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park. His creator, Chuck Palahniuk, is the visionary we need and the satirist we deserve.

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From the Publisher

Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this ...

From the Jacket

Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this ...

Chuck Palahniuk’s four other novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Format:PaperbackPublished:June 11, 2002Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385720920

ISBN - 13:9780385720922

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourite books ever This book spoke to me in a very profound way, it was edgy yet touching... Despite Palahniuk's fall from grace as of late, this is probably his best book and worthy of much respect. It's about family, friendship, and struggling to find your place.
Date published: 2015-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I liked it and I didn't I didn't like the main character. There were some interesting, gross parts in there (re: kinks that land people in the ER and the medical protocols created to deal with them). But it's been over a year since I read it and parts still linger with me. I still think about it somewhat regularly. And I have to like that.
Date published: 2014-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So great! When I first started reading Choke, my expectations were pretty low because I'd read another one of Chuck P's books before and didn't enjoy it at all. As it turned out, I really liked Choke. It had a very interesting story, and it seemed to have comedic relief in all the right places. Because of the theme of the book, I really had no idea what to expect on the next page, but I can definitely say that I was never disappointed.
Date published: 2011-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This one had me smiling. I really enjoy the way Palahniuk can incorporate graphic sex scenes and disturbing scenes of violence to the point of indecency and still get away with a really entertaining and wholesomely enjoyable book. It's a quality to be admired. This particular novel left me wondering if Chuck Palahniuk REALISES he's a bloody genius, or if he's one of those ones that are unaware of his massive intelligence. Just the concept of this book is brilliant. Of course, like the rest of his works, the book isn't for kids alright, but it's definitely an invigorating read for the rest of us.
Date published: 2010-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why didn't I think of this scam earlier? A man pretends to choke in restaurants, thereby allowing someone different to be a hero every time he does it! Those people are left thinking they just saved someones' life, which of course they have not, but they feel great as a result! They also feel very connected to the 'chokee' and often send him gifts on his birthday and at christmas. As a result, the main character has a sweet racket going where he gets free meals in restaurants, and gets free stuff from all of the past 'saviours'; until of course someone sees him choke on two different times at two different restaurants. Regardless, one is left wondering whether he should be allowed to keep choking, as it seems to be beneficial for him (i can only assume he would be on welfare, and a burden to the state without this alternative 'job'), plus it is beneficially to those that save him. Wouldn't you feel great if you saved someone's life? So why not sit down with a nice big snack, take some big bites, don't chew very much, and 'Choke' on this great read? In my top 10 books I read in 2009.
Date published: 2010-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book has me praising Palahniuk! “Cyclical” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind. Through satire, absurdity and scintillating prose, this self-help book in disguise educates us on the trauma cycle, the cycle of addiction, and a huge dose of karma (not to be confused with “Kama” Sutra, which also has a role in the subject matter). Though this loathsome anti-hero wouldn’t be my first choice as the second coming of Christ, he is rather crafty in his efforts to survive his own troubles, as well as taking on the troubles of others. Choke is laugh-out-loud hysterical and jaw-dropping disturbing, and I’m happy to say it has made me a devout fan of Palahniuk’s. Now I can’t wait to see the movie! www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2008-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I'm a performance artist doing dinner theatre: A review of Chuck Palahniuk's Choke If you can get four or five hours to yourself , CHOKE can be read in a single sitting. This is a pre-Clark Gregg review, the movie will be out in September and after the film the book will never be the same. CHOKE was Palahniuk’s first novel to appear after the DVD edition of Fight Club made it to market. Fight Club bombed at the box office due to scathing reviews about its excessive violence and fraternity. Invisible Monsters and Survivor were published in 1999 with some circulatory success but Choke hit it fairly big. It was widely reviewed and read. In a fairly recent interview (Summer 2008) Palahniuk suggested that Choke was a kind of sequel to Fight Club. I thought it was pure PR but after reading it again I changed my mind. It is in many ways written like a sequel to Fight Club. It was probably written on a tide of enthusiasm for the DVD, amidst hundreds of interviews about the film and laudatory praise for its fierce imagination. So . . . I’m willing to grant that it is a kind of sequel. Ida Mancini could have been Tyler Durden’s mother. I’m assuming that this is deliberate, why mess with something that works. Since the novel has been out for several years I don’t consider including Spoilers unfair game. Consider yourself warned. The novel begins and we’re introduced to Victor Mancini and his mother. The philosophy of his mother is written on the wall: “You had to risk your life to get love. You had to get right to the edge of death to ever be saved” (3). Thie novel is Victor’s confession, step four in the twelve-step recovery program. Victor is a sex addict. Like many of his novels it uses the techniques of journalism to tell its story (Choke is a confession, the fourth step in a recovery program; Survivor is a confession recorded by a flight recorder; Rant is an oral biography, etcetera). Victor on distraction: “That’s pretty much how we get through our own lives, watching television. Smoking crap. Self-medicating. Redirecting our own attention . . . Denial (60-61). “Every addiction, she said, was just a way to treat this same problem. Drugs or overeating or alcohol or sex, it was all just another way to find peace. To escape what we know. Our education. Our bite of the apple” (150). Fight Club "copy of a copy": “Wednesday night mean Nico. Friday nights mean Tanya. Sundays mean Leeza” (16). When Victor has an orgasm, “I’ve got no problems in the world. No mother. No medical bills. . . I feel nothing” (19). The love triangle: Victor Mancini, Ida Mancini, and Paige Marshall (narrator – Tyler Durden – Marla Singer). I am Joe’s . . . is replaced by: “Parasite” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind (33). “Beatific” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind (36). Followed by “Pilgrimage” (36), “Freedom” (38), “Savior” (39), “Hero” (39), “Charity” (50), “Ponzi scheme” (79), “Stalking” (110), “Revenge” (119), “Incorrigible” (160), “Vandalism” (177), “Tombstone” (195), “Morning sickness” (230), “Defused” (232), and “Widower” (270). The “Fight Club” chapter is chapter 6 in Fight Club. The “Choke” chapter is chapter 7 in Choke. “Why I do this is to create heroes” (49). This isn’t unlike the scene in Fight Club where he makes a human sacrifice, putting a gun to the head of a clerk and threatening to kill them unless they live out their dreams. “It’s the martyrdom of Saint Me” (51). Tyler Durdenisms: “Screw history. All these fake people, they’re the most important people for you to know,” the Mommy said (97). “Another thing she said was, ‘The Enlightenment is over. What we’re living in now is the Dis-Enlightenment’” (98). “‘My generation, all of our making fun of things isn’t making the world any better,’ she says. ‘We’ve spent so much time judging what other people created that we’ve created very, very little of our own’” (111). “Parenthood is the opiate of the masses!” (112). “If you’re looking for enlightenment, the Mommy said, a new car isn’t the answer” (148). “Without access to true chaos, we’ll never have true peace. Unless everything can get worse, it won’t get any better” (159). “She used to say, ‘The only frontier you have left is the world of intangibles. Everything else is sewn up too tight’” (159). “Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because nothing is as exciting as your fantasy” (164). This becomes a mantra throughout the rest of the text. This is the first time the phrase appears. “These men and women sitting behind unlocked doors know a bigger house is not the answer. Neither is a better spouse, more money, tighter skin . . . The answer is there is no answer” (256). The recommendations are related to the religious themes in CPs novel.
Date published: 2008-09-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I hope the movie version turns out as good as Fight Club The life of an addict - a sex addict, who pretends to choke on food to get attention and money. His job sucks, his mother doesn't even remember her own son, and things just keep going down this path. Funny and imaginative. I can't wait for the movie.
Date published: 2008-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another extraordinary job. Choke is another fantastic work from Chuck Palahniuk. With an unusal story to begin with, it ends with an even more unusual twist. Lately I can't get enough from this master of satirical fiction. I'm looking forward to how they go about portraying it in the film version, and have to wonder if it will start a new fad of people pretending to choke in restaurants as Fight Club started underground fight clubs.
Date published: 2008-07-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very unusual Our main character is someone who pretends to choke on food in restaurants to gain attention and money, is a sex addict and has an insane mother. And there's even more oddities when you get into Choke. Palahniuk has this ability to write very odd characters with somewhat negative and depressing personalties, but not in a bad way. Again like in Fight Club we are presented with some ugly truths about our society and the people living in it. I'm continuing on with his other books and I suggest that others give them a try too.
Date published: 2008-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Palahniuk Does it Again Palahniuk is certainly the king of satire, but truth be told, what I've always loved about his novels are the trivia. I tend to read his novels close to the computer so I can look up those bits and pieces he drops, googling to find out if any of them are true. One of the last few chapters of this novel will definitely have you thinking differently about flying... and those unlocked bathroom stalls.
Date published: 2008-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from round've applause for a job well done. I daresay young master Palahniuk has done it again with a tour-de-force novel. I'd say it is as similar to his other works as any novelists stories would be and accusations of it being "just the same" are as unfounded as they are dastardly. Almost a bit too randy for my liking, if you aren't too squimish about matters of a sexual nature, give this book a read.
Date published: 2008-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Sharp Commentary on today's Society Palahniuk again delivers a powerful observation of 21 century living. Although Chuck's books all seem to share a similar quality, it is still worth the read. Anarchy through intelligence!
Date published: 2006-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from dry wit with an edge Choke is one in a collection of delightful yet noir novels by Palahniuk. I've read all that I could get my hands on. Choke is up there with his best. Choke is a novel worth reading if you enjoy dry wit with an edge and unexpected endings. It has a plot in the palahniuk style, it's hard to miss. A book that let's you sneak a peek at the mind of the type of person who, at times, a doorknob would look good to.
Date published: 2006-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outrageous and witty Choke is Chuck Palahniuks best novel, every bit as outrageous and witty as his previous works. This book will keep you guessing right to the end. It is clear that Palahniuk did a great deal of research for this book, medical texts eat your hearts out! Choke is a book about Victor Mancini, a medical school drop out, a sex addict, an anti-hero, who intentionally chokes at restaurants to gain the financial support of strangers in order to support his aging mother's medical bills. Anyone who liked Fight Club will love Choke. Masterpiece isn't the right word, but it is the first word that comes to mind.
Date published: 2006-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Amazing If you enjoyed Fight Club then you'll love Choke. Choke is about a sex addict who works during the day and chokes on food at restaurants at night. He does this to support his mother who is in critical care. A very sexual book. Quite graphic. It is filled with flashbacks so it can seem jumpy at times. If you liked how Fight Club ended with a crazy twist then this is perfect for you. Completely unpredictable.
Date published: 2006-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whether you love or you don't With this novel, Palahniuk (Pau-la-nik) resumes what could be the second chapter of Fight Club. Victor Mancini, a med-school dropout chokes in restaurants to pay for his ailing mother plugged to some machines. Dark, humoristic, satirical, the best Palahniuk so far. Stay away if you don't like Vonnegut, Coupland, and the likes. Very factual, not for those who like the flowery crap that you can buy everywhere.
Date published: 2004-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ALL KINDS OF TWISTED There's something about reading a book, by an author who has the ability to verbalize everything you've ever been afraid to say. Palahniuk creates a masterpiece, full of twists and turns and events that will not only shock you because of his incredible use of the english language, but also because the symbols and the metaphors are so deep that you have to read it twice. This book is for anyone, who has ever thought anything, about anything.
Date published: 2003-06-20

Extra Content

Read from the Book

In the summer of 1642 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a teenage boy was accused of buggering a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves, and a turkey. This is real history on the books. In accordance with the Biblical laws of Leviticus, after the boy confessed he was forced to watch each animal being slaughtered. Then he was killed and his body heaped with the dead animals and buried in an unmarked pit. This was before there were sexaholic talk therapy meetings. This teenager, writing his fourth step must've been a whole barnyard tell-all. I ask, "Any questions?" The fourth-graders just look at me. A girl in the second row says, "What's buggering?" I say, ask your teacher. Every half hour, I'm supposed to teach another herd of fourth-graders some shit nobody wants to learn, like how to start a fire. How to carve an apple-head doll. How to make ink out of black walnuts. As if this is going to get any of them into a good college. Besides deforming the poor chickens, these fourth-graders, they all walk in here carrying some germ. It's no mystery why Denny's always wiping his nose and coughing. Head lice, pinworms, chlamydia, ringworm?for serious, these field trip kids are the pint-sized horsemen of the apocalypse. Instead of useful Pilgrim crap, I tell them how their playground game ring-around-a-rosy is based on the bubonic plague of 1665. The Black Death gave people hard, swollen, black spots they called "plague roses," or buboes, surrounded by a pale ring. Hence "bubonic." Infected people were locked inside their houses to die. In six months, a hundred thousand people were buried in the huge mass graves. The "pocket full of posies" was what people of London carried so they wouldn't smell the corpses. To build a fire, all you do is pile up some sticks and dry grass. You strike a spark with a flint. You work the bellows. Don't think for a second this fire-starting routine makes their little eyes sparkle. Nobody's impressed by a spark. Kids crouch in the front row, huddling over their little video games. Kids yawn right in your face. All of them giggle and pinch, rolling their eyes at me in my breeches and dirty shirt. Instead, I tell them how in 1672, the Black Plague hit Naples, Italy, killing some four hundred thousand people. In 1711, in the Holy Roman Empire, the Black Plague killed five hundred thousand people. In 1781, millions died worldwide from the flu. In 1792, another plague killed eight hundred thousand people in Egypt. In 1793, mosquitoes spread yellow fever to Philadelphia, where it killed thousands. One kid in the back whispers, "This is worse than the spinning wheel." Other kids open their box lunches and look inside their sandwiches. Outside the window, Denny's bent over in the stocks. This time just out of habit. The town council has announced he'll be banished right after lunch. The stocks are just where he feels most safe from himself. Nothing's locked or even closed, but he's bent over with his hands and neck where they've been for months. On their way here from the weaver's, one kid was poking a stick in Denny's nose and then trying to poke the stick in his mouth. Other kids rub his shaved head for luck. Starting the fire only kills about fifteen minutes, so after that I'm supposed to show each herd of kids the big cooking pots and twig brooms and bed warmers and shit. Children always look bigger in a room with a six-foot ceiling. A kid in the back says, "They gave us fucking egg salad again." Here in the eighteenth century, I'm sitting beside the hearth of the big open fireplace equipped with the regular torture chamber relics, the big iron pothooks, the pokers, andirons, branding irons. My big fire blazing. This is a perfect moment to take the iron pincers out of the coals and pretend to study their pitted white-hot points. All the kids step back. And I ask them, hey kids, can anybody here tell me how people in the eighteenth century used to abuse naked little boys to death. This always gets their attention. No hands go up. Still studying the pincers, I say, "Anybody?" Still no hands. "For real," I say and start working the hot pincers open and shut. "Your teacher must've told you about how they used to kill little boys back then." Their teacher's outside, waiting. How it worked was, a couple hours ago, while her class was carding wool, this teacher and me wasted some sperm in the smokehouse, and for sure she thought it would turn into something romantic, but hey. Me being face deep in her wonderful rubbery butt, it's amazing what a woman will read into it if you by accident say, I love you. Ten times out of ten, a guy means I love this. You wear a foofy linen shirt, a cravat, and some breeches, and the whole world wants to sit on your face. The two of you sharing ends of your fat hot slider, you could be on the cover of some paperback bodice-ripper. I tell her, "Oh, baby, cleave thy flesh unto mine. Oh yeah, cleave for me, baby." Eighteenth-century dirty talk. Their teacher, her name's Amanda or Allison or Amy. Some name with a vowel in it. Just keep asking yourself: "What would Jesus not do?" Now in front of her class, with my hands good and black, I stick the pincers back into the fire, then wiggle two of my black fingers at the kids, international sign language for come closer. The kids in the back push the ones in the front. The ones in the front look around, and one kid calls out, "Miss Lacey?" A shadow in the window means Miss Lacey's watching, but the minute I look at her she ducks out of sight. I motion to the kids, closer. The old rhyme about Georgie Porgie, I tell them, is really about England's King George the Fourth, who could just never get enough. "Enough what?" a kid says. And I say, "Ask your teacher." Miss Lacey continues to lurk. I say, "You like the fire I got here?" and nod at the flames. "Well, people need to clean the chimney all the time, only the chimneys are really small inside and they run all over the place, so people used to force little boys to climb up in them and scrape the insides." And since this was such a tight place, I tell them, the boys would get stuck if they wore any clothes. "So just like Santa Claus . . ." I say, "they climbed up the chimney . . ." I say, and lift a hot poker from the fire, "naked." I spit on the red end of the poker and the spit sizzles, loud, in the quiet room. "And you know how they died?" I say. "Anybody?" No hands go up. I say, "You know what a scrotum is?" Nobody says yes or even nods, so I tell them, "Ask Miss Lacey." Our special morning in the smokehouse, Miss Lacey was bobbing on my dog with a good mouthful of spit. Then we were sucking tongues, sweating hard and trading drool, and she pulled back for a good look at me. In the dim smoky light, those big fake plastic hams were hanging all around us. She's just swamped and riding my hand, hard, and breathing between each word. She wipes her mouth and asks me if I have any protection. "It's cool," I tell her. "It's 1734, remember? Fifty percent of all children died at birth." She puffs a limp strand of hair off her face and says, "That's not what I mean." I lick her right up the middle of her chest, up her throat, and then stretch my mouth around her ear. Still jacking her with my swamped fingers, I say, "So, you have any evil afflictions I should know about?" She's pulling me apart behind and wets a finger in her mouth, and says, "I believe in protecting myself." And I go, "That's cool." I say, "I could get canned for this," and roll a rubber down my dog. She worms her wet finger up my pucker and slaps my ass with her other hand and says, "How do you think I feel?" To keep from triggering, I'm thinking of dead rats and rotten cabbage and pit toilets, and I say, "What I mean is, latex won't be invented for another century." With the poker, I point at the fourth-graders, and I say, "These little boys used to come out of the chimneys covered with the black soot. And the soot used to grind into their hands and knees and elbows and nobody had soap so they stayed black all the time." This was their whole lives back then. Every day, somebody forced them up a chimney and they spent all day crawling along in the darkness with the soot getting in their mouths and noses and they never went to school and they didn't have television or video games or mango-papaya juice boxes, and they didn't have music or remote-controlled anything or shoes and every day was the same. "These little boys," I say and wave the poker across the crowd of kids, "these were little boys just like you. They were exactly like you." My eyes go from each kid to each kid, touching all their eyes for a moment. "And one day, each little boy would wake up with a sore place on his private parts. And these sore places didn't heal. And then they metastasized and followed the seminal vesicles up into the abdomen of each little boy, and by then," I say, "it was too late." Here's the flotsam and jetsam of my med school education. And I tell how sometimes they tried to save the little boy by cutting off his scrotum, but this was before hospitals and drugs. In the eighteenth century, they still called these kind of tumors "soot warts." "And those soot warts," I tell the kids, "were the first form of cancer ever invented." Then I ask, does anybody know why they call it cancer? No hands. I say, "Don't make me call on somebody." Back in the smokehouse, Miss Lacey was running her fingers through the clumps of her damp hair, and said, "So?" As if it's just an innocent question, she says, "You have a life outside of here?" And wiping my armpits dry with my powdered wig, I say, "Let's not pretend, okay?" She's bunching up her pantyhose the way women do so they can snake their legs inside, and says, "This kind of anonymous sex is a symptom of a sex addict." I'd rather think of myself as a playboy, James Bond type of guy. And Miss Lacey says, "Well, maybe James Bond was a sex addict." Here, I'm supposed to tell her the truth. I admire addicts. In a world where everybody is waiting for some blind, random disaster or some sudden disease, the addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He's taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of his death from being a total surprise. In a way, being an addict is very proactive. A good addiction takes the guesswork out of death. There is such a thing as planning your getaway. And for serious, it's such a chick thing to think that any human life should just go on and on. See also: Dr. Paige Marshall. See also: Ida Mancini. The truth is, sex isn't sex unless you have a new partner every time. The first time is the only session when your head and body are both there. Even the second hour of that first time, your head can start to wander. You don't get the full anesthetic quality of good first-time anonymous sex. What would Jesus NOT do? But instead of all that, I just lied to Miss Lacey and said, "How can I reach you?" I tell the fourth-graders that they call it cancer because when the cancer starts growing inside you, when it breaks through your skin, it looks like a big red crab. Then the crab breaks open and it's all bloody and white inside. "Whatever the doctors tried," I tell the silent little kids, "every little boy would end up dirty and diseased and screaming in terrible pain. And who can tell me what happened next?" No hands go up. "For sure," I say, "he died, of course." And I put the poker back into the fire. "So," I say, "any questions?" No hands go up, so I tell them about the fairly bogus studies where scientists shaved mice and smeared them with smegma from horses. This was supposed to prove foreskins caused cancer. A dozen hands go up, and I tell them, "Ask your teacher." What a frigging job that must've been, shaving those poor mice. Then finding a bunch of uncircumcised horses. The clock on the mantel shows our half hour is almost over. Out through the window, Denny's still bent over in the stocks. He's only got until one o'clock. A stray village dog stops next to him and lifts its leg, and the stream of steaming yellow goes straight into Denny's wooden shoe. "And what else," I say, "is George Washington kept slaves and didn't ever chop down a cherry tree, and he was really a woman." As they push toward the door I tell them, "And don't mess with the dude in the stocks anymore." I shout, "And lay off shaking the damn chicken eggs." Just to stir the turd, I tell them to ask the cheesemaker why his eyes are all red and dilated. Ask the blacksmith about the icky lines going up and down the insides of his arms. I call after the infectious little monsters, any moles or freckles they have, that's just cancer waiting to happen. I call after them, "Sunshine is your enemy. Stay off the sunny side of the street."