Here are two more suggestions from my “List of books I have read more than once, from authors I adore.” These are by Chuck Palahniuk, author of “Fight Club” and many other books.
Chuck Palahniuk holds a special place in my heart. His novel “Choke” (2001) re-ignited my love for reading after a 5 year stint of reading only children’s books out loud to my son. “Choke” is about Victor Mancini, a man who drops out of medical school to care for his dying mother. Sounds like a tender, poignant drama with an inspirational heartfelt family message right? Well, it is. But it is also about Victor’s sex addiction and how he spends most of the time at meetings screwing the women he sponsors.
“Choke” is a book that makes me laugh out loud, and each person I have loaned it to has gone on to read more of his novels. I suppose that is why Chuck’s website is called “The Cult.”
I was disappointed in the film adaptation (starring Sam Rockwell in 2008) because “Choke” is one of my favorite books ever, but I had unrealistic expectations. In the film, so many layers of the plot weren’t explored. I suppose 90 minutes isn’t enough time to touch upon a holy foreskin, disabled chickens, living museums, rock-collecting, strippers, sex addiction, medical school and elder parent care.
Favorite Quote: “The addict has the comfort of knowing what will most likely wait for him down the road. He’s taken some control over his ultimate fate, and his addiction keeps the cause of his death from being a total surprise. In a way, being an addict is very proactive.”
Or, if that is too cynical for you, here is another: “Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.”
“Survivor” is Chuck’s second book published (1999). It’s not as crude as “Choke” and not as subversive as “Fight Club.” It has the same dark humor that I openly laughed out loud at; thankfully when you are reading, no one knows exactly what you find so amusing. Recently it was announced that “Survivor” is being adapted by Jim Uhls (screenwriter of Fight Club) into a television show. I believe the plot and back story are enough to keep this show afloat for several seasons. I will try to keep my expectations low, to avoid being disappointed.
The novel is about Tender Branson, a member of the “Creedish Church.” Only firstborn sons and their wives get to stay in the Creedish community; the rest are sent out to work in the “outside world” as servants, to send their earnings back to the church. Tender spends his time scrubbing the home of employers who seek his advice on etiquette but only ever interact with him via speaker phone. (“What are they serving for dinner? Lobster! How are we supposed to handle that?!”)
Following a mass suicide of the Creedish Church community and remaining members in the “outside world,” Tender becomes the sole survivor. A smarmy agent develops Tender into a sacrosanct mega superstar mahatma. (“I told the agent I already knew my childhood. Over the phone he said, “This version’s better.”) “Survivor” is a satirical jab at instant celebrity and religion, blended together with helpful cleaning tips, a history of artificial flowers and the hint of love story.
If that isn’t enough plot to entice you to read the book, I am sorry. Someone at Wiki practically re-wrote the book on their site, so I’m doing my best not to reveal too much. Each time I read the book I have found new things to love. All of the people I have recommended this book to, loved it and went on to read more novels by Chuck.
Favorite Quote: “You’ve never seen a crucifix with a Jesus who wasn’t almost naked. You’ve never seen a fat Jesus, or a Jesus with body hair. Every crucifix you’ve ever seen, the Jesus could be shirtless and modeling designer jeans or men’s cologne.”
“Amphetamines are the most American drug. You get so much done. You look terrific, and your middle name is Accomplishment.”