Sep 242008
Authors: kelly bleck

Exposing the obsessions and rare disorders underlying society, Chuck Palahniuk plays with the psyche in his novel “Choke.”

He focuses on characters that display the ailments of society, those that have disorders rarely heard about but always present. As a devious, sex-obsessed colonial theme park employee, Victor Mancini consistently uses the caring members of society for personal gain. Palahniuk creates a darkly comedic character in Mancini, who traverses through upscale restaurants pretending to choke on food.

When he is inevitably saved by a good and rich, Samaritan, Mancini uses guilt trips to manipulate his savior into sending consistent checks to aid his miserable life. The ‘good Samaritans’ gives Mancini their information, and he continuously sends letters highlighting his unpaid bills and life expenses, which leads them to keep sending checks. Palahniuk plays off the character’s seemingly selfish demeanor and ironically reveals that Mancini sends the money to pay for his mother’s elder care. After becoming acquainted with the character, it will not come as a surprise that Mancini’s mother was his teacher in the ways of conspiracy and the instigator for his unstable relationships with women.

Mancini’s situations are highlighted as staples in society, regular disturbing events frequent in people’s everyday lives. This satire about society is meant to instigate change, as Palahniuk becomes a realist who defines all problems.

Unexpectedly, Palahniuk gives Mancini an optimistic side, completely opposite of the other things he devises for the deranged character. These unpredictable descriptions dare the reader to pity Mancini, and even like him, despite his despicable actions. After work Mancini seeks sex addiction classes, wandering in search of those who suffer from the same depraved nature as him. In an ongoing satire, Palahniuk jests the readers, again daring them, this time to change their routines and stop the way society is turning.

Palahniuk implies that society has become engrossed in television with no one experiencing anything of value. Satirizing the ‘diseases’ that have become incorporated into society, Palahniuk reveals the shortcomings society has undergone, such as material obsessions. Palahniuk’s writing style engrosses readers, making them laugh awkwardly about deranged ideas, following the same line of his previous novels. Not the best novel to start with when beginning Palahniuk novels, the recognized author of “Survivor” and “Little Monsters” continuously instigates thoughts on the direction of the world.With a release date of Oct. 3, the movie version of “Choke” will follow the renowned “Fight Club”, bringing Palahniuk’s mind to the screen once again. The movie “Fight Club” did justice to the book, and hopefully with the appropriate cast and a well-written script “Choke” may live up to the expectations of the Mancini character.

With a rich mix of the unexpected and brilliant writing that drills unfortunate events into readers’ mind, Palahniuk is able to reveal the shortcomings of society.

Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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