Fight Club may be Palahniuk’s magnum opus, but Choke is another rare book that feels as though it was meant to be experienced together with the movie it inspired.
In the 2001 novel, Palahniuk’s first New York Times best seller, Victor Mancini is certainly bizarre enough. Seriously: No other writer in the world could have dreamed up a Colonial American reenactor who’s also a recovering sex addict and who feigns choking in restaurants to skip out on the bill. Palahniuk’s descriptions and imagination are visceral.
But in the 2008 film adaptation, when you see Sam Rockwell’s nuanced but unsubtle take on Victor as he chokes in a crowded restaurant or visits his ailing mother wearing breeches and stockings, you finally understand Palahniuk’s vision.
Just as Ed Norton, with his measured weirdness, brought Fight Club to life, Rockwell—arguably the most underrated actor of his generation—is the ideal fit for Palahniuk’s demented genius.