Thursday, January 8, 2009
I finished Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke today, which was as bizarre (if not more) than I anticipated. Originally I picked up the book because he had such a smash hit with Fight Club, and now I see how Fight Club might actually be an intense and incredible read.
Reading Palahniuk is a crazy experience. The way he describes situations and feelings is so intense. I feel connected and like I am there. I find myself wincing and getting chills at time. He is extremely effective. His talent is apparent to anyone who reads his work. I was blown away even though it was very disturbing at times and was just very odd and bizarre.
I didn't know what to expect with his writing or this book, and it ended up in places I never imagined it would go. He uses flashbacks and "rhetorical writing ticks" as he calls them, or repetitive writing techniques, that blow me away.
One thing I really enjoy about his writing is the use of repetition of certain phrases. They really worked well and were brilliant. He used these phrases in this book:
What would Jesus not do?
See also: (and would list medical disorders, diseases, or people like a medical journal would do)
I can see how he would also do this in Fight Club. He had the repetitive use of I am Jack's (insert crazy phrase like "smirking revenge"). It is very identifiable and very unique. He will leave that technique with some growing writer (or writers) out there.
For those of you who might want to read Choke, here is the premise: Victor Mancini is a middle-aged sexaholic who failed out of medical school. His mother has Alzheimers and is in a nursing home. Victor can hardly pay for her rent with his menial job as a worker in a living museum from the colonial times where he actually has to dress up like them at work and act as if he's from the time. To earn extra cash, he goes to restaraunts and chokes so that people will save him, feel better about their own lives because they are heroes, and receive some sort of cash and financial help from them. He is also trying to get over his sex addiction through the 10-step program with his best friend Denny, another recovering sex addict, although they both still dabble in it quite frequently (the book is very explicit). Victor ends up entangled in strange relationships with women, especially with one nurse at the hospital named Paige. That is the basic plot, for it unfolds into many strange directions which I will not give away.
I suggest reading the audio tape version because Palahniuk reads it himself, which is an experience in itself because you can hear the way he reads it and thinks it. He gives it the appropriate rhythm and tone he implied for it. Also, at the end, he describes the reason he wrote the book and an interview with him after the novel's publication.
The reasons he wrote the book: He wrote it to help explore his deceased father who (in a sense) was a sex addict. He jumped around from woman to woman a lot, so he tried to get to know him through Victor's character. He also went to sex addict meetings and discovered a lot about them through those experiences. Everything else is a mix of stories from his life that he tries to mesh into one piece to make sense of and document those.
Very explicit, very humorous, very real to life. You have to have an open mind to go into this one. It's very detailed, yet it's quite an experience to read Palahniuk. He's a one-of-a-kind writer.
So, what did you think of Choke?