Choke

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Reviewer's Age: Grade 12

Choke is the latest book from Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. It tells the story of Victor Mancini, a medical school dropout who scams people into giving him money by pretending to choke at restaurants. Victor's scheme works like this: he'll visit a different restaurant every few days and cause a great alarm choking on his food. The point of doing this is to get someone from the restaurant clientele to come up to him and rescue him by performing the Heimlich maneuver on him. The hero doesn't know Victor staged the whole thing, so he/she feels as though he/she has really made a difference and saved someone's life. What's more is that once they've put themselves in that position of taking care of Victor, they feel the responsibility to check up on him from time to time and make sure he's OK; luckily for Victor, this checking up includes sending birthday cards and money to help out.

I don't want to tell you more about the plot, but rest assured that if you like what I described in the last paragraph, you'll probably like the book. In terms of style, Choke is identical to Palahniuk's other books, so you can expect the same kind of witty narrative style and humor. What sets Choke apart is the fact that it takes a step away from the direction Palahniuk was driving at in his three earlier novels. Choke isn't just about tearing everything apart; it's apart tearing things apart and then building something better. Considering that the book is coming from the author who had written about a bunch of guys beating each other to a bloody pulp, this book will make you feel surprisingly warm and fuzzy inside. Definitely read it if you liked anything else by Palahniuk (and if you're not familiar with his other works, still give this book a shot; it's easy to read and really funny).