Choke

2020-01-22T18:47:07-05:00

Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk.

I like this book. It has character. It reads like a Chuck Palahniuk book. Like you can tell the guy who wrote fight club wrote it. Not only based on style, but also the ideas discussed and the way the story unfolds -- or is that just part of style?

I picked up this book for my 20th birthday, had started reading it around that time but put it down for a while before coming back to it. I guess my attention has been elsewhere for the past couple months but now that I'm back in school and commuting I've picked up the reading gene again.

It's kind of funny that I decided to put the book down when I did because it was right before everything really started to pick up in the story. Consequently, I read the remaining 200 pages that were left in 2 days. Choke is one of those stories that put you in an absolute trance and you can't stop reading until you get to the end and figure it all out.

One difference I noticed between the other books I've read by Palahniuk (Fight Club, Invisible Monsters) is that Choke actually made me feel uncomfortable at times, where as the other books made an attempt but never quite got a visceral reaction out of me -- from what I can remember.

This book talks a lot about playing a role to satisfy someone else's needs (usually emotional), but the intention ends up always to benefit the self.

People need somebody they can send a check at Christmas. So stay poor. "Charity" isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.

Similar to how regular people at the gym pay for personal trainers and complicated workout classes so they can feel like they've been working out; like they've earned it. The personal trainer doesn't sell the perfect body or athletic ability, that all comes with hard work and consistency. The trainer sells the emotion behind working out, the way you feel good when you're following a program with someone cheering you on from the side lines.

I see this type of behaviour a lot on social media. People are always sharing posts to "spread awareness" for some issue in the world. Perhaps I'm pessimistic but it seems that some people post just to feel good about their contribution without actually doing anything. Of course there's always power in numbers and when enough people speak up about something "other people" are bound to pay more attention. I guess I'm just more of a take matters into your own hands type of guy.

One of the weirdest parts about fiction is that sometimes you end up sympathizing with a sex addict. The way you get to go deep inside someone's head and hear their inner thoughts, allows for a deeper understanding of character than what you get anywhere else.

A lot of what I've said before about Palahniuk's books stands for this one too. There's really no filter, just raw thoughts and ideas, stuff that you almost wouldn't dare say out loud. That type of content is exactly what I'm looking for when I pick up a book. I feel like a lot of my life is just playing within other people's rules and making sure that I'm not going to offend anyone or say the wrong thing. Like everyone is just pretending to having everything all put together and everyone's life is functioning perfectly fine, and I guess if we all stop pretending everything might really fall into chaos and society as we know it might collapse, but at the same time if we could get past that, maybe we could start solving real problems.

Even if the shoe doesn't fit, you'll shrink into it.

Some times it's easier just to give in to every stereotype and not try to distinguish yourself as an individual. If everyone thinks you're a nerd with no social skills you might just give up on developing social skills. Or not realize they're important to have because you decided what "role" you're going to fill based off of everyone else's perception of you.

I always used to think that since I was good at math, people expected me to be good at math. When I was growing up, I'd push myself to stay ahead of the curve because that's what I'd always done. It seemed disingenuous to stop being good at math when I'd done it for so long. In a way you can reverse a lot of Palahniuk's satire and end up getting an optimistic message out of it. Perhaps if the shoe is too big you'll end up growing into that too.

What would Jesus NOT do

Why do people do anything? > "Anything you can acquire," she says, "is only another thing you'll lose." The answer is there is no answer. For real, this is a way heavy moment.

It doesn't really matter what your addiction is. If you abstract enough we all just want "more" of something. It's kind of weird that you sort of have to pick one, and try to make it so it doesn't have too many bad side effects, and make sure that where it's headed is actually where you want to go.

Being an addict is picking your own path, you know where you're going to end up. The alcoholic will die of liver cancer, that's not a surprise. So their story turns into "how will they get there?", not "what's going to happen?". It's a different kind of suspense. I guess that can be comforting to some.

"How did you decide to become a doctor?" Paige shrugs. "You have to trade your youth for something. . . ."

I've heard Palahniuk talk about this idea before in his interview with Joe Rogan. I find it really interesting that a lot of authors will hit on core ideas in their novels and then close to 20 years later will still be discussing those same ideas. It becomes much less about the story and more about what the philosophy of the book is. How the characters structure their lives and justify their beliefs, some of it is nonsensical, but there's complex ideas being discussed; truth buried in the absurdity.