Choke tells the story of Victor Mancini, who works in a colonial-era theme park with a motley group of losers and breezes to sexual addiction support groups for entertainments. A medical school drop-out, he cannot afford the care of his feeble mother, so he resorts to consistently going to various restaurants and purposely causing himself to choke mid-way through his meal, luring a “good Samaritan” into saving his life. Why? “I do this because everybody wants to save a human life with a hundred people watching.”

By choking, you become a legend about themselves that these people will cherish and repeat until the die. They’ll think they gave you life. You might be the one good deed, the deathbed memory that justifies their whole existence.

Somebody saves your life, and they’ll love you forever. It’s that old Chinese custom  where if somebody saves your life, they’re responsible for you forever. It’s as if now you’re their child. For the rest of their lives, these people will write me. Send me cards on the anniversary. Birthday cards. It’s depressing how many people get this same idea. They call you on the phone. To find out if you’re feeling okay. To see if maybe you need cheering up. Or cash.

Along with Bret Easton Ellis and Irvine Welsh, Palahniuk has often been described as an MTV generation writer, with general characteristics that include hip, outrageous themes (“black comedy”), conspicuous distrust of the “regular life” , dysfunctional (usually young) characters and catchy quotable sentences. If you love Fight Club, American Psycho, Trainspotting, Haruki and Ryuu Murakami’s books, Donnie Darko, you might like this too.

The movie version has won a Special Jury Prize at 2008 Sundance Film Festival and will be released on September 26, 2008. For more information on this movie, visit the official site:

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Founding director, c2o library & collabtive. Currently also working in Singapore as a Research Associate at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). Opinions are hers, and do not represent/reflect her employer(s), institution(s), or anyone else with whom she may be remotely affiliated.

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