CHUCK PALAHNIUK is the author of fourteen novels--Beautiful You, Doomed, Damned, Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Diary, Lullaby, Choke, Invisible Monsters, Survivor, and Fight Club--which have sold more than five million copies altogether in the United States. He is also the author of Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest. Visit him on the web at chuckpalahniuk.net.
In the course of his three novels (e.g., Fight Club), Palahniuk has become a master of depicting the dark and depraved underbelly of our society through the voices of mordantly existential protagonists. Choke is no exception. This time around, readers are ushered into a world of sexaholics, historical theme parks, and other bizarre matters by Victor Mancini, a medical school dropout who has resorted to fake choking in restaurants in order to pay the hospital expenses for his elderly mother, Ida. Ida also happens to be an anarchist whose social terror campaigns made Victor's childhood less than stable. Such is the universe of Palahniuk, who calls the norms of our society into question by presenting us with a parallel world where most of what we hold to be true is exposed as hallow or insane. His writing is as good and as funny as ever, and like many other Palahniuk characters, Victor is quite memorable. Some readers may be shocked and even repulsed by much of the subject matter here. Still, it is recommended for most public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Heath Madom, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Palahniuk (Fight Club; Invisible Monsters) once again demonstrates his faith in the credo that before things get better, they must get much, much worse. Like previous Palahniuk protagonists, Victor Mancini is young and prematurely cynical, a med school dropout whose eerily detached narration of the banal horrors of everyday existence gives way to a numbed account of nihilistic carnage. Cruising sex-addict meetings for action, Victor enjoys bathroom trysts with nymphomaniacs on short prison furloughs, focused on maximizing his sexual highs. During the working day, he is trapped in a 1734 colonial theme park, where the entire self-medicated staff blearily endures abusive school tours while hiding out from the world. Victor supports his mother, who is in the hospital, stricken with Alzheimer's; she is wasting away, and despite the misery she put him through in childhood (revealed in an increasingly horrific series of flashbacks), he wants to be a good boy and take care of her. This becomes challenging when Victor is seduced by a strange hospital worker calling herself Dr. Marshall, who shows him his mother's diary; it describes her self-impregnation by a holy relic she believes to be the foreskin of Jesus. This has a profound effect on Victor, who is stunned by the possibility that there may be some good in him after all. Victor is even more pathetic than Palahniuk's previous antiheroes, in that the world he creates for himself (a carnivalesque m‚lange of theme park, geriatric ward and asylum) is actually more horrific than the one he seeks to escape. Still, the novel showcases the author's powers of description, character development and attention-getting dialogue handily enough to give this dark meditation on addiction a distinctive and humorous twist. Author tour. (May 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Sheer, anarchic fierceness of imagination . . . [A] raw and vital book." --The New York Times
"Few contemporary writers mix the outrageous and the hilarious
with greater zest. . . . Chuck Palahniuk's splenetic, anarchic glee
makes him a worthy heir to Ken Kesey." --Newsday "Palahniuk
displays a Swiftian gift for satire, as well as a knack for
crafting mesmerizing sentences." --San Francisco Examiner "Puts a
bleakly humorous spin on self-help, addiction recovery, and
childhood trauma . . . [F]unny mantra-like prose plows toward the
mayhem it portends from the get-go." --The Village