The sex addiction bit I can handle. The potential second coming of Christ plot, though old hat, has been a staple of my reading over the last twenty years (so much so that the worst excesses of my own juvenilia written at sixteen was a second coming novel). The aspect of Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke which just does not ring true for me was the titular choking.

Victor makes the majority of his living out of choking almost to death in restaurants. He has trained himself to get food stuck in his throat and then flaps about pointing at his neck until another patron does the Heimlich Manoeuvre on him (it being the piece of first aid everybody knows). Then the book posits that the saviour will feel so good about themselves that they will continue to feel responsible for Victor’s well being, up to the point of paying various sums towards his living expenses. Its a nice idea, but thoroughly reliant on aberrant human behaviour. It becomes clear later in the book why Palahniuk needs Victor to constantly be saved, so he can potentially save others, but when you twist establish human behaviour this far it destabilises the book.

Choke is fun enough, with plenty of easy yet effective shock author tricks (the opening chapter is a tour de force is goading the reader to actually read on, by explaining how despicable the lead really is). There is a lot of shock for shock sake stuff going on, which becomes wallpaper after about twenty pages. You pretty much forget that for the last seven chapters all the action is taking place with a couple of rubber balls stuck up Victor’s anus. Snappy, intriguing but the flaw in the central plot also undermines any other statements Palahniuk might be making about human nature.