Chuck Palahniuk certainly has a way with words that I don't think any other contemporary American writer matches. Each and every line seems laden with sardonic wisdom and while reading the Tao of Pooh book at the same time, I saw a lot of similarities in Palahniuk's philosophy with the philosophy of accepting reality as it is, not as you want it to be. Palahniuk's books all seem so similar in theme and style that you can almost see the connection between this one and Fight Club. The tone of the books is the same and it's anti-materialistic, anti-Western collectivist, nihilistic themes are easily identifiable. Choke is much more satiristic and ironic than Fight Club, and I think in some ways that makes it a much more intelligent book. It's filled with subtleties and the surprises Palahniuk stories seem to depend on isn't really all that important in the end. What is is the motivation of it's main character: Victor Mancini.
Victor is an entirely compulsive character whose main addiction at the moment is sex. He surrounds himself with other addictive personalities, mainly his friend Denny, and other women sex addicts to avoid dealing with reality. Standing in complete contrast to Victor is his mother, Ida. Ida's life, as we learn through flashbacks cleverly paced and sprinkled throughout the narrative, is consumed by the pursuit of destroying the symbols that society has created that bar us from seeing reality. We see how she desperately tries, but fails to impart this wisdom on the young Victor, who wants more than anything to just have some stability in his life, and to feel needed. The whole story, while extreme in plot and situation, bear strong resemblance to the lives of probably every modern American who has not devoted their life to being a hippie or naturalist, and there are at times moments of painful self-revelation and discovery as you read through the story of Victor's life.
Beyond these strong thematic and satirical elements, Choke is a fun read. Palahniuk certainly knows how to turn a phrase and pace his narrative with just the right amount of repetition in structure to reveal subtle differentiations with each iteration. This book was intelligent, funny and greatly philosophical.