Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, is the story of 20-something slacker, sex addict, con-man, and all-around fuck-up, Victor Mancini. After dropping out of medical school to care for his critically ill mother, Victor takes on a job at a medieval themed amusement park to pay for her hospital expenses.
Victor’s daily work routine consists of enduring demeaning tasks given by his sadist boss, trying to prevent his dumb-ass best friend from getting fired, and constantly humiliating himself for the amusement of tourist while observing his fellow coworkers engaged in their workplace politics and rampant behind-the-scenes substance abuse.
Victor’s free time is spent swindling strangers in restaurants, attending sex addiction counseling, and sleeping with as many mentally or emotionally unstable women as he can find in a vain attempt to fill some empty void in his life.
Victor’s running narrative of self-administered psychoanalysis on his addictive/compulsive behaviors, combined with frequent flashbacks to a childhood frequently up-ended by his mother’s erratic behavior and socially disruptive antics, as well as his self-loathing invective, creates a veritable map of his deviant psychology for the reader to examine.
Despite all of the insanity occurring in his life, Victor still manages to find time to visit his mother in the hospital. Even though she is clearly deteriorating right before his eyes, and does not even recognize him, Victor still finds comfort in knowing that things are coming to a close in some respects
As Victor is increasingly sucked deeper and deeper into this suffocating vortex of drama that is his life, he finds himself quickly losing his grip. Circumstances around him rapidly accelerate to the point where he now longer knows quite what is fact vs fiction, or who he even really is anymore. The resolution of the book is similar to the end of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” in the way the orchestra rapidly crescendos into an overwhelming cacophony that explodes into one final chord struck on the piano, and then decays into a beautiful silence as the notes fade out.