Jason calls it like he sees it
Here goes my urban hipster literary credibility: Chuck Palahniuk is a one trick pony. He ran out of things to say after writing Fight Club. Since Fight Club, all of his books have been eerily similar, as though he has an outline titled “Palahniuk Novel”
and he just fills in the blanks. His popularity is due not to the edgy
concepts that he espouses (anyone that owned a copy of The Anarchist’s
Cookbook while growing up never really thought much about Chuck giving
away a recipe for napalm in Fight Club, and besides, he tweaked
it so people couldn’t make it anyway, pussy), or to his surprises
(anyone with half a brain figured out all of Invisible Monsters by the
end of the fourth quarter of the book), but can instead be attributed
to our generation being raised on sound bytes and thirty-second-bursts
of information from the Godbox. Because of our childhood indoctrination
into the School of No Attention Span, we devour Palahniuk in one
sitting, fascinated by his short, choppy dialogue and his two-page
chapters. His books were made to be movies, because in the end, they were based on cinema.
Choke is no different. It starts out with hints at the novel’s ending, just like Fight Club.
It has a lot of references to things that are not common knowledge,
just like Fight Club (but less interesting- Fight Club’s arcane
knowledge was explosives, whereas Choke’s arcana deals with security
codes in shopping centers and hospitals). The sociopathic main
character finds out that he might not be who he thinks he is, just like
Fight Club. He has a sidekick that seems to know all the unorthodox answers to life’s riddles, just like Fight Club. By the way, this paragraph could easily have been written about Survivor or Invisible Monsters.
is about a kid with a troubled childhood growing up to be a troubled
adult who makes money by pretending to choke on his food in restaurants
and letting someone be the hero. Once the hero saves him, he tells the
hero his woes and the hero then starts sending him regular checks in
the mail. I swear to God. Anyhow, his mom is dying and a nurse that
wants to fuck him so that she can use the resulting embryo in
experiments is willing to save her, but only if he can get it up and
actually ball her, which for some reason (cheater: he loathes himself)
he is having trouble doing, despite the fact that he is a member of
Sexaholics Anonymous. Oh, and he might be Jesus Christ by way of secret
Vatican genetic testing on his mother. He is a med student and he works
at a Ren Fair, and the sequences at the fair are the only places that
really, genuinely cracked me up, but only because I enjoy subverting
children and making them nervous.
But hey, it’s an easy read-
two good, healthy bowel movements with a joint in between and you’re
done. Ready to move onto other authors with very little to say (but
that are very good at saying it), like Brett Easton Ellis or Douglas
Copeland. Turn off your brain, sit back, and imagine Edward Norton as
the main character.
By the by, Fight Club
wasn’t the revolutionary book that everyone makes it out to be. All it
was was butchered Zen Buddhism and machismo grandstanding that in the end
alluded to the idea that materialism is far better than revolution,
anyway. Read it again with your brain plugged in and you’ll see what
I’m talking about. And the movie? Brad Pitt said everything that he
said in Fight Club four years earlier, in exactly the same persona, as
Jeffrey Goines in Twelve Monkeys.