What would Jesus NOT do?

December 6, 2008


If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.

That’s the opening line from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Choke. I’m a simple man, and for me first lines matter. I tend to read a book or throw it out of the window; actions determined by the first line. Here’s the first line of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; “Robert Langdon awoke slowly.” Hmmm. Out the window go the beans.

If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.

And then, of course, I bothered. it’s a great opening line, and I’m rebellious enough to ignore instructions (unless they’re from a policeman, or anyone in a hat, or someone with a stick) But, when reading a book by Chuck, I feel as anarchic as a hundred Tyler Durdens. When told not to bother, I bother.

Like most of Chuck’s books, Choke bursts with ideas and invention. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sexy, it’s shocking, it’s… incomprehensible. I’ve gone too far there. But I do remember when I read it ( a few years ago when it came out… it’s locked up in storage at the moment) that after finishing I thought; what was that? Yet I loved it. And so I was surprised at just how understandable Choke, the film, is.

Yesterday I had to pass some time. I went to see it. Clark Gregg adapted it and you can read an excellent interview with him here. As you can see Chuck approves. Clark also directs and acts in it. He plays the obnoxious and uptight Lord High Charlie, who, through the judicious use of a handjob, is maybe redeemed. Am I giving too much away? Or is this too cryptic? You can read proper reviews that attempt to explain the story elsewhere. I don’t think it’s a plot spoiler… think of it as a What would Jesus NOT do moment.

If there were things in the book that left me happily bewildered, Clark has done a good job of sorting them out. This film makes sense, and at the end very sweet-hearted sense too. Heck, Choke, for a film chock full of sex addiction, ends up a good old fashioned love story. Should you see it? Paraphrasing both the book and the film, decide for yourselves.

If you’re going to see Choke, don’t bother.


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