Timing the Choke

The modern (or post-post-modern or contemporary or whatever you want to call it) novel seems to live in the fourth dimension: time. Ever since Faulkner, authors cannot keep their chronology straight. Novels are filled with non sequitur flashbacks, inversions, and jumps. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk is no different. His med school drop out protagonist jumps from childhood adventures with his deranged mother to his 17thCE role playing job and from his escapades as a recovering sex addict to intentionally choking in restaurants.Choke by Chuck Palahnuik In order to garner funds needed to keep his mother alive and cared for, the main character Viktor Mancini resorts to pretending to choke on over sized pieces of steak. He creates hundreds of heroes that truly believe that they have saved a life. By jumping between the two, Palahniuk parallels these heroes with the subjects of Victor’s sex addiction. Now, what does that say about the pseudoheroes? That they are nothing better than depraved women? The constant between these parallels is always Victor. It seems more likely that our character of moral ambivalence considers the heroes and the girls to be equivalents: they both give him what he needs. Perhaps it appeals to him in a twisted masochistic way: public humiliation.

See also: adrenaline rush.

See also: possible death.

However, he is a recovering sex addict so I have my doubts about that.

The shifts are discontinuous, you never know if you’ll end up in the mile high club or with your dying mother who refuses to eat. I have to say, that this is one of my favorite predilections of modern writers. This method has the power to invoke spontaneity, black humor, and reader disorientation. What author doesn’t love to take the reader for a ride? Chuck Palahniuk certainly does. Or maybe I just like it because I never was any good at transitions.

Andrea Abi-Karam

Andrea Abi-Karam (CAS '11) is the editor-in-chief of the Quad. She is a neurobiology major and an English minor. She does rat surgery and edits the magazine.

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