The idea here, as the synopsis goes, is having
1) "a medical school dropout with a problem", who
2) "needs to pay for elder care for his (sick) mother." The fee is clearly not cheap, so our protagonist needs to work his ass off; by
3) "pretending to choke in upscale restaurants and getting 'saved' by fellow diners."
4) "Meanwhile, he cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops and"
5) "spends his days working at Colonial Dunsboro." (a touristy place of interest with tangy 80s vibe)
6) "Oh, yeah, and he's desperate to find the truth of his paternity, which his addled mother suggests may be divine"
Number 1 and 2, we could give them an easy pass. Our main character being a medical school dropout, means you'll encounter many terms that may come across as unfamiliar, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to understand them at all...they usually come with handy explanations and even if they don't, they won't affect the storyline in general. In fact I think they add more colours to the book, so no problem with medical jargons here.
Number 3 sounds like one problem you can't dismiss in such instant. In this book you can spot our main character Victor Mancini eating in a fine restaurant every night, savouring exotic food from all over the world; tonight it's chinese food, mediterranean cuisine the next, some other nights he has to 'work' in multiple restaurants at one go. Then he'll be choking his food halfway through--his neck veins bulging, his ungainly hands clutching them tight, his legs clasped shut on the floor-- and finally saved (and received financial support subsequently) by some sympathetic fellow diners.
I didn't really grasp what it is in the diners' action until Victor narrates that it's not only a sense of responsibility or sympathy that urges these people to save Victor's life; it's their craving, their desperate need to be the brave superheroes sometimes. Victor only "serves" the opportunity, he lets them be heroes who save his life, so that they have a story to brag about in some friend's weddings, a kind of valid achievement they could be proud of when told to their children and family. Victor's job may sound like a fresh idea, though in real world the feasibility is laughably slim.
Number 4 is not a bad point, I think the idea is quite well presented in this book. By emphasising that love and sex are always mutually exclusive, Palahniuk serves a lethal dose of steamy casual sex and how you lose your animal instinct when faced with someone you really love, if you've been living a casual sex lifestyle for a long period of time.
Number 5 is not my favourite. Not liking the place he's working in. Too much of senseless law enforcement.
Number 6, alright nothing like number 6 could be more Palahniuk-esque. This part is when you either love it or loathe it. I downright belong to the second category. If you've read his other works, Rant might be the closest comparison, so you have the idea. Thus you need to be aware that the words 'paternity' and 'divine' here--should they be interpreted the right way, the Palahniuk's way-- mean we're dealing with time travel, reincarnation, Jesus Christ and other historical figures.
Some parts of the book I really love, there's quite a number of hard-slap-in-your-face moments I actually enjoy. There are also several parts that contain some kind of insiders' knowledge that I actually need to check whether it's part of the fiction or the truth:
She snapped her finger. "Mr. Amond Slivestiri?" she said. "If he's paged, what should you do?"
At some airports, paging him means a terrorist with a bomb. "Mr. Almond Silvestiri, please meet your party at get ten on the D concourse" means that's where the SWAT teams will find their man.
Perhaps such code exists in real airports so as to prevent an imminent threat of terrorism, but there are also codes in supermarkets and hotels and hospitals, according to the book. What I'd like to know is whether they really make use of these codes exactly as they are: "The Blue Danube Waltz" in a hotel lobby means they need to evacuate the building. Paging "Nurse Flamingo" in a hospital means a fire. "Sheila to the front" in a supermarket means somebody is shoplifting in the front of the store. If they do page Nurse Flamingo to cancer ward instead of ringing the fire alarm during actual fire situations, I think I better start getting worried...
Another eerie piece of information here
Somewhere due north above Dallas, I'm trying to work up more spit while she tells me the way to make a woman never leave you is to cover her head with nettle thorns and monkey dung.Again, I haven't looked up for the accuracy of these pieces of information. They might be just some curious superstitions or made-up facts, but if they are factual, what a mighty knowledge to acquire...
And I'm, like, no kidding?
And if you bathe your wife in buffalo milk and cow bile, any man who uses her will become impotent.
I say, I wouldn't be surprised.
If a woman soaks a camel bone in marigold juice and puts the liquid on her eyelashes, any man she looks at will become bewitched. In a pinch, you can use peacock, falcon, or vulture bones.
Mentioned before is the niftiness of love and sex that usually exists as hard-slapping moments in this book.
Their teacher's outside, waiting. How it worked was, a couple hours ago, while her class was carding wool, this teacher and me wasted some sperm in the smokehouse, and for sure she thought it would turn into something romantic, but hey. Me being face deep in her wonderful rubbery butt, it's amazing what a woman will read into it if you by accident say, I love you.Perhaps the ideas could be chalked up to "women can fake an orgasm, but men can fake a whole relationship."
Ten times out of ten, a guy means I love this.
If it comes down to a choice between being unloved and being vulnerable and sensitive and emotional, then you can just keep your love.
In the beginning-middle part of the book he refuses to have sex with a doctor he thinks he is in love with. But Victor Mancini is acutely sceptical about love in the end.
The truth is, sex isn’t sex unless you have a new partner every time. The first time is the only session when your head and body are both there. Even the second hour of that first time, your head can start to wander.
I think sir, the exact same thing applies to your books... Or maybe I got my expectations way up too high. That's what people do when they start to read more of Palahniuk's work after finishing Diary. But I'd love to re-read some of the pages of Choke I've bookmarked personally. It's more fascinating to have it as chopped up pieces, imo
Overall, it's an ok work, definitely not his best. I think I need to get in touch with his earlier work (eg Lullaby, Survivor)