My guest blogger today is Violette Mingazova a first year student at Jefferson Community and Technical College majoring in criminal justice. She tells us about Choke.
Choke is book number 954 on the 1001 must read list, although it would be one of the top books that I recommend. Author, Chuck Palahniuk, has written other bestseller novels such as Fightclub and Pygmy.
Palahniuk’s style of writing is probably what I found most intriguing in the beginning before I came to unravel the plot. The book begins with the narrator and main character, Victor Mancini, describing a scene with, who he calls a stupid, worthless boy and his mother escaping. It is unclear from what though. The narrator describes the scene very well but drops very little hints that tell you what the characters are doing exactly or why. Palahniuk does this throughout most of the novel, which is what keeps you hooked and interested to see what the characters will do next. He comes back to this “stupid” little boy about every other chapter. In the other chapters Victor talks about his life as a sex-addict, who is trying to put his mentally delusional mother on a feeding tube by scamming people.
The characters of this book are:
Victor Mancini-narrator, main character, sex-addict, and savior?
Ida Mancini-Victor’s ill mother
Denny-Victor’s loyal friend, sex-addict
Dr. Paige Marshall- delusional patient (yes, patient) at St. Anthony’s
Throughout the novel, Victor talks about his day-to-day life going to his sex addiction classes, and by going I mean hooking up with the girls who attend the classes, and working at Colonial Dunsboro, a historical museum, where the employees reenact the life in 1700’s America.
In between his job and sexual escapades with random women, he visits his mother at St. Anthony’s hospital, an insane asylum. Due to her mental instability, she refuses to eat and because of this she needs a feeding tube. Victor can’t afford this for his mother, so he turns to his infamous scam. A few nights a week he goes out to eat at restaurants and chokes on his food, looking for a good Samaritan to save his life. Once he is saved, Victor and his hero exchange information to keep in touch via letters, where Victor plays a good humble man trying to make ends meet. His heroes feel bad and send him money. Victor sees himself as a hero to them too, though. He thinks that saving someone’s life is one of the greatest things anyone could do. He thinks that even someone who sees no purpose in life will change their minds after saving someone. Every time Victor visits his mother at the hospital, he is attacked by his mother’s fellow delusional patients, who accuse him of violating them when they were 10, or running over their dog, or breaking into their homes years ago. Although Victor’s never actually committed any of those acts, he admits to them because he feels like he is lifting a huge weight off of their shoulders and freeing them of long years of emotional pain by giving them closure.
During one of Victor’s visits to St. Anthony’s, Mrs. Mancini confesses that she has a secret about Victor’s paternity. She doesn’t reveal it to him but mentions that it’s in her diary. Victor is anxious to find out the truth about his birth father, but the diary is written in Italian. One of Mrs. Mancini’s doctors, Dr. Paige Marshall, decides to help Victor with the translation. As she finishes, she tells Victor that he was conceived in Italy and is the second coming of Christ. Dr. Marshall and Victor think that Mrs. Mancini is delusional, but this news hits Victor hard even though he doesn’t believe it. Victor knows he’s a bit of a jerk and is perfectly okay with this. Hearing that he might be Christ makes him think that he’s meant to do good. He refuses to follow this path and begins to do the opposite by being an even bigger ass. After a while, he begins to think that maybe it’s ok to do good deeds. He confronts his ill mother about what the diary said only to find out that the translation of the diary was completely inaccurate and the actual delusional person is Dr. Paige Marshall. At this point the plot twists entirely as we find out about the actual paternity of Victor and what Paige was hiding all along, which most readers will find to be completely crazy.
I love the style of Palahnuik’s writing; it kept me anxious to see what would happen next. The book is so good that I’m almost scared to watch the movie adaptation of it for the fear that it just won’t be the same. Choke made me think about how to become a better person, although everyone can find their own message that they interpret from the novel, which is why I feel that everybody should read this book.