My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Jun 25


Category: Life,Opinions

So, I recently finished reading Choke by Chuck Palahniuk and it totally reminded me again how brilliantly Palahniuk can write. Though, it being one of his earlier works, I also worry that his best stuff is behind him. Palahniuk has an amazing knack for creating complete lunatic, fuck up, low-life characters who are still likable and relatable. At least, I find them relatable. Choke’s protag is Victor Mancini, a sex-addicted liar who may or may not be the Second Coming of Christ. Victor’s a med-school dropout working as an indentured servant at an historical theme park. His mother’s a senile social anarchist who spent most of his childhood in and out of prison, kidnapping him from various foster homes. If Victor’s not busy having sex with women from sex addicts anonymous, he’s pretending to choke at local restaurants. His saviors befriend him, hear his troubles, they send him money. Victor needs the money, indentured servant, sex addict, med-school dropouts don’t pull down enough to keep their moms in high-end nursing facilities. Victor also likes the idea that he gives people a story to tell, that he creates heroes one meal at a time. At the nursing home, the demented old women mistake Victor for men who wronged them in the past and he cops to every sin from incest to dog murder. It’s much easier for Victor to be someone else, with each confession providing closure until senility reopens the wounds. Victor’s best friend, Denny, another sex addict, collects rocks for every-day he doesn’t masturbate. He says he wants his life to about something rather than be about not doing something one day at a time. Still, the rocks are just a fix for a fix.

Palahniuk likes to write certain themes into every novel, like, losing everything to truly appreciate anything, or how hitting absolute rock bottom simply means there’s nothing left to fear, both of which I love. He also writes a great deal about things being just a fix for a fix. One addiction to fix another. Denny and the rocks. Victor taking responsibility for so many sins just to feel needed. I really understand such themes and I feel better knowing that other people have that same understanding. I think about the idea of a fix for a fix quite a lot, ever since the hole in my throat and and the tube in my stomach. The trache fixes my breathing and takes away my voice leaving thoughts and worries to fill my head until I can’t sleep, until I miss every drug I ever had. Brandy to slow everything down. Reading, watching movies, writing as much as possible so the brandy doesn’t feel necessary. Amazingly hot soup, astonishingly hot coffee, fantastically cold cereal go into my feeding tube because eating has become more about sensation than taste. The oral pleasure of sweet cocoa replaced by the sensual pleasure of heat from steamed soy milk as it passes through a tube to my stomach, to my chest, to my face. Fixes for fixes. Palahniuk’s writing, especially in Choke, Survivor and Invisible Monsters is so spot on as to make things that I think about more clear and less frightening. I feel less alone. 

Definitely read Choke, it’s darkly hilarious and quite provocative.


6 Comments so far

  1. Rachel June 25th, 2008 10:35 am

    Last night I just finished SNUFF. It was the first Chuck Palahniuk book I had ever read. I read it in 2 days…very easy read….I have to say though, you feel like you need a shower after reading it, actually you feel like you need a shower after every chapter. If you read it, let me know how you thought it was compared to his other works.

    It was a hard book to “like” in that there were no real likeable characters in it….except for maybe the porn star, who you just felt seriously bad for.

  2. THEO June 25th, 2008 12:32 pm

    I think Choke was the last Palahniuk novel I read. I enjoyed it, but his style is repetitive to the point of annoyance.

    It’s why I stopped watching Tarantino movies, too – the guy is incapable of writing in another voice, so you pretty much know what you’re gonna get every time.

  3. michael June 25th, 2008 1:03 pm

    I understand that, but luckily, I totally dig that style the way they do it.

    Rachel, I totally agree about Snuff. You should definitely read Survivor, it’s his best.

  4. THEO June 25th, 2008 5:57 pm

    I don’t mean to diss Palahniuk; Fight Club and the resulting film were both transformative for me, and I love the guy for that. I just happen to think everything he’s done since has been “a variation on that theme”, as Ira Glass might say.

  5. michael June 25th, 2008 6:17 pm

    I definitely agree with that too. I just happen to have a particular fondness for his key themes. When I like something, I absorb it, practically memorize it. I saw A Scanner Darkly six times just in the theater. After a seventh, I think my assistant would have definitely quit…

  6. Bianca August 11th, 2008 1:09 pm

    In case you hadn’t seen it –