Book Review: CHOKE, by Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk will ruin everything for you: air travel, eating out, tourism, the zoo (especially the zoo), chocolate pudding, movies, and more. You name it, and he'll work it into a novel somehow and wreck it for you. You'll never eat a bowl of soup in a restaurant again without wondering...I, for one, will never again see the zoo quite the way I did pre-Palahniuk, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I know I was all ambivalent and conflicted in my review of Fight Club, and I know that I can't necessarily play at feeling conflicted again after reading CHOKE--obviously, if I've made it through three Palahniuk novels, something's got me coming back. I better just admit that I like him. He's good. Probably either disturbed (bad) or smarter than the rest of us (worse), but I'll say it: Chuck Palahiuk is good. I like his books.

And I'm saying that CHOKE is quite possibly my favorite so far. There's tricky pacing and several surprise endings (thought it was over? No! Here comes another one!) that Palahniuk pulls off grandly--the characters are quirky, but not irritatingly so. He develops them all quite nicely, but I was especially drawn to Ida Mancini and, yes, Victor Mancini himself. Ida's madness is of the brilliant, evil-genius variety and so she was utterly fascinating--the power she has over Victor goes far beyond anything Victor, as narrator, can pinpoint, but it's unmistakably there even when Victor himself can't see it. Haunting.

Which reminds me: I still haven't brought myself to track down that first story of Haunted. Perhaps someday when I'm feeling brave, I'll find it and read it and be changed--or completely grossed out, or what have you. It'll be great.


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