◂ MK

The Blue Danube Waltz: Choke, Chuck Palahniuk Review

Choke is a dark comedy novel written by Chuck Palahniuk and published in 2001. Choke is Palahniuk's 8th published novel, and he is best known for his critically acclaimed novel Fight Club. Choke is an endlessly entertaining satirical depiction of the American society typical of Palahniuk. It is a gruesomely outspoken story about the protagonist Victor Mancini's and other sex addicts' struggles and mishaps.

The novel is characterized by its ridiculously honest language that makes the novel a joy to read, inviting readers back to the book time after time. The main characters in the book are the protagonist Victor, his mother Ida, his best friend Denny and doctor Paige Marshall who's taking care of the mother. Victor and Denny are both more or less recovering sex addicts and the story features a few other sex addicts Victor is affiliated with. The story's location isn't precisely disclosed but it revolves around a few different locations including the mother's constant care residence, the mother's old house and a living 18th-century theme park where the protagonist and his best friend work.

The story includes delirious urban legends about sex injuries and details about what's really happening in the 18th-century village. Regularly occurring flashbacks to moments in Victor's childhood, where his mother takes him from his foster parents, are a key element in building the story. The main issue at the beginning of the book is having to find the money for his mother's care. For this, he goes out every night to choke on his food at a new restaurant so the person rescuing him would feel obligated to support him financially later on. The story gets complicated when Victor starts developing strange feelings for his mother's doctor Paige Marshall and when he starts suspecting he might be the second coming of Jesus Christ himself.

Even though the story itself was quite dark, the book was a very enjoyable read as the humoristically brutal descriptions made the text fun to read. The characters were so humanely faulted that at the same time it managed to make the characters cartoonish and also incredibly believable. The plot is quite unpredictable in a good way and it always leaves you wanting for more. Even though I would prefer not to bring up Fight Club, as it may even start to seem like a burden of success to Palahniuk, I must say that anyone who has enjoyed Fight Club will certainly also love this story. That being said, I think I would recommend this book to any reader, as long as they will not mind the explicit language and are ready to dive into the story.

The book is another thought-provoker from Palahniuk questioning the meaningfulness of today's society. Especially once the book arrives at its end where the whole story gets turned upside-down, Palahniuk reminds the reader about the importance of making yourself what you truly wish to be and not letting society tell you who you are and who you can be.