Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

I wasn’t at all sure whether I’d like Palahniuk. He wrote Fight Club, a clever film I liked, so he seemed worth a try, but I wondered if he might be just a smart cult author with nothing much to offer. But I enjoyed this a lot. Its cover blurb (courtesy of the IoS) is ‘Fight Club for sex addicts’, which of course is hopelessly misleading. It has plenty of rough and gaudy trappings, lots of fairly extreme sex and madness, and that’s all good and told with freshness and vigour and wit, but there is much more going on underneath, some really interesting themes – of addictions and the emptiness of modern society, of rebellion, of insanity and one’s opinion of oneself, of good and evil – that are expressed and explored in ways not much like anything else, and that he pulls together beautifully, almost casually at the end. This is very fine writing, albeit of a deliberately (I think) unpolished and almost pulpy kind, a terrifically entertaining blend of lurid and sensational material and clever and thoughtful meanings and ideas. I’ll certainly look for all of his other books.