Books

bChoke
By Chuck Palahniuk
Doubleday/$24.95

If you attend church on a regular basis or believe sex is only a product of being in love, you likely will not adore this book. Palahniuk, author of the bestseller turned major-motion picture Fight Club, writes with a captivating rawness that sends readers racing through the pages. Once again, he touches on the agony of knowledge and the necessity of living outside the head. But of greater focus is the world of masks, vice and symbols, resulting in an eerie reflection of our modern society.

Victor Mancini, our self-loathing, sex-addict protagonist by day earns minimum wages posing as an Irish indentured servant at a live, working Colonial settlement. His fellow early-Americans are a flotsam of drug addicts, adulterers and social outcasts who shroud their darker, true selves beneath colonial garb. By night, when he's not cruising sex-addict support groups for a piece of ass, Victor is working on making real money: By pretending to choke a multitude of times at different restaurants, Victor has created hundreds of "heroes" who in turn become patrons supporting Mancini. Palahniuk's world is one where make-believe is real and people see what they want to see. "Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it."

The world is but a plethora of symbols to digest. Victor's mom, an anti-consumerism advocate, has spent her life searching for a way to simplify. For one brief moment she does see "That big glorious mountain. For one transitory moment ... without thinking of logging and ski resorts and avalanches, managed wildlife, plate tectonic geology, microclimates, rain shadow, or yin-yang locations. She'd seen the mountain without the framework of language. Without the cage of association. It wasn't a natural resource. It had no name."

While not roses and rainbows, this dark and funny story will leave your brain black and your innocence blue.

—Jennifer Wilson

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