14 September 2006

Chuck Palahniuk, Choke. New York: Doubleday, 2001

You can’t say he doesn’t warn you. The very first sentence goes, “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.” Why not? “What you’re getting here is a stupid story about a stupid little boy,” and “There has to be something better on television.”

Well, that last part probably isn’t true; otherwise, it’s a fair warning. Palahniuk, best known as the author of what became the movie Fight Club, gives us a disturbing look at that stupid little boy’s later life: he is a sexaholic who makes money by pretending to choke on his dinner in a new restaurant each night.

Yet Palahniuk’s work, while full of the disgusting and seemingly senseless distruction, is ultimately about redemption—he’s a cynic, he sees the grotesque, and he finds a way for his characters to overcome it. This isn’t a pretty story, but underneath it all, this is a beautiful story.



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