Choke (novel)

2001 novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Choke is a 2001 novel by American author Chuck Palahniuk. The story focuses on Victor, a sex addict, who must find work in order to afford the care that his mother is receiving in her nursing home. Victor first resorts to being a con man, then after receiving money from various "good Samaritans", gets a job at a colonial reenactment museum before building a dream home for himself.


  • Just keep asking yourself: 'What would Jesus NOT do?'
  • So if you think this is going to save you...
If you think anything is going to save you...
Please consider this your final warning
  • The world won't end with a whimper or a bang, but with a discreet, tasteful announcement: 'Bill Rivervale, phone call holding, line two.' Then nothing.
  • "The way to remember the symptoms of melanoma is the letters ABCD.
Asymmetrical shape.
Border irregularity.
Color variation.
Diameter larger than about six millimeters."
  • This is the world we live in. I've been there, taken the MCAT. The Medical College Admission Test. I went to the USC School of Medicine long enough to know that a mole is never just a mole. That a simple headache means brain tumors, means double vision, numbness, vomiting followed by seizures, drowsiness, death.
  • A little muscle twitch means rabies, means muscle cramps, thrist, confusion, and drooling, followed by seizures, coma, death. Acne means ovarian cysts. Feeling a little tired means tuberculosis. Bloodshot eyes mean meningitis. Drowsiness is the first sign of typhoid. Those floaters you see cross your eyes on sunny days, they mean your retina is detaching. You're going blind.
  • The diseases a mother can pass to her baby are TORCH: Toxoplasmosis, Other (meaning syphilis and HIV), Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, and Herpes. It helps if you can picture a mother passing the torch to her baby.
  • The glue and resin smell in new cars is formaldehyde, she'd tell him, the same thing they use to preserve dead bodies.
  • If you're ever in a big hotel lobby, and they start to play 'The Blue Danube Waltz,' get the hell out. Don't think, run.
  • You tell me, what does it get you if you can square root a triangle and then some terrorist shoots you in the head?
  • Here in your mind you have complete privacy. Here there's no difference between what is and what could be.
  • Drugs or overeating or alcohol or sex, it was all just another way to find peace. To escape what we know. Our education. Our bite of the apple.
  • Language... was just our way to explain away the wonder and the glory of the world.
  • We live and die and anything else is just delusion.
  • People had been working for so many years to make the world a safe organized place. Nobody realized how boring it would become.
  • When you're an addict, you can go without feeling anything except drunk or stoned or hungry. Still, when you compare this to other feelings, to sadness, anger, fear, worry, despair, and depression, well, an addiction no longer looks so bad. It looks like a very viable option.
  • The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it's only intangibles, 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. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.
  • The past, the future, life on other planets, everything is such a projection of life as we know it.
  • What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.
  • The deluded little rube who thought he could ever earn enough, know enough, own enough, run fast enough, hide well enough. Fuck enough.
  • It's pathetic how we can't live with the things we can't understand. How we need everything labeled and explained and deconstructed.
  • We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are...Or we can decide for ourselves.
  • ...maybe it's our job to invent something better. What's it going to be, I don't know...and maybe knowing isn't the point.
  • Without access to true chaos we'll never have true peace.
  • Parenthood being the opiate of the masses.
  • When people dance to fire alarms and gun shots, something is wrong.
  • Masochism is a valuable job skill.
  • Torture is torture and humiliation is humiliation only when you choose to suffer.
  • It's the martyrdom of Saint Me.
  • In America, if your addiction isn't always new and improved, you're a failure.
  • All women have to do is get naked, and we give them all our money. I mean, why are we such slaves?
  • The magic of sexual addiction is you don't ever feel hungry or tired or bored or lonely.
  • Nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it.
  • Art never comes from happiness
  • Every son raised by a single mom is pretty much born married
  • The magic of sex is it's acquisition without the burden of possessions. No matter how many women you take home, there's never a storage problem.
  • We've taken the world apart but we have no idea what to do with the pieces.
  • By the time you're thirty, your worst enemy is yourself.
  • How can it be prostitution if all the women were dead?
  • A good addiction takes the guesswork out of death.
  • The only thing that separates us from the we have pornography.
  • I mean, I'm just tired of being wrong all the time just because I'm a guy.
  • (Insert word) isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind.
  • Nobody can expect you to remember every near-death experience.
  • Sponges don't have bad days.
  • You gain power by pretending to be weak. By contrast, you make people feel so strong. You save people by letting them save you. All you have to do is be fragile and grateful. So stay the underdog... You're the proof of their courage. The proof they were a hero. Evidence of their success... You might be the one good deed, the deathbed memory that justifies their entire existence. [pg 50-51]
  • Even after all that rushing around, where we've ended up is the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. And maybe knowing isn't the point.
  • It's creepy, but here we are, the Pilgrims, the crackpots of our time trying to establish our own alternative reality. To build a world out of rocks and chaos.
  • We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heros or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves.
  • The half-moon looks up at us, reflected in a silver pie tin of beer. [...] Denny drinks about half the beer and says, "This is how they drink beer in Europe, dude." Out of slug traps? "No, dude," Denny says. He hands me the pie tin and says "Flat and warm."
  • ...Because the moment this is over, we'll hate each other. The moment we find ourselves cold and sweating on the bathroom floor, the moment after we both come, we won't want to even look at each other. The only we person we'll hate more than each other is ourselves.
  • (about Colonial Dunsboro) We're all trapped. It's always 1734. All of us, we're stuck in the same time capsule, the same as those television shows where the same people are marooned on the same desert island for thirty seasons and never age or escape. They just wear more makeup. In a creepy way, those shows are maybe too authentic.
  • ... if enough people looked at you, you'd never need anybody's attention ever again. That if someday you were caught, exposed and revealed enough, then you'd never be able to hide again. There'd be no difference between your public and your private lives.
  • Her attention span is about a clock tick long, and you can shove her on to a more pleasant topic. You can guess this is how men have been handling Eva's hostility for her whole life. Just distract her. Get through the moment. Avoid confrontation. Run away.
  • There's an opposite to Deja vu. They call it jamais vu. It's when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar.

  Encyclopedic article on Choke (novel) on Wikipedia

Works by Chuck Palahniuk
  Novels     Fight Club (1996) · Survivor (1999) · Invisible Monsters (1999) · Choke (2001) · Lullaby (2002) · Diary (2003) · Haunted (2005) · Rant (2007) · Snuff (2008) · Pygmy (2009) · Tell-All  
  (2010) · Damned (2011) · Invisible Monsters Remix (2012) · Doomed (2013) · Beautiful You (2014) · Make Something Up (2015)  
  Non‑fiction     Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (2003) · Stranger than Fiction: True Stories (2004)  
  Comic books     Fight Club 2 (2015–2016)  
  Film adaptations     Fight Club (1999) · Choke (2008)