Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be “saved” by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor’s life, go on to send checks to support him. When he’s not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park. His creator, Chuck Palahniuk, is the visionary we need and the satirist we deserve.
The book sounds disgusting, and much of it was too vulgar for my ladylike sensitivities, but I recommend it because it changed my perspective on a lot in life. Satire has that ability to point out the differences in human nature and reality and experience in a very raw, almost intolerable way.
By the end of the book, I felt this big breath of fresh air sweep into my lungs. Almost as if Victor was trapped in a windowless house, roaming, searching aimlessly for a way out, and by the last chapter had found it, lit a cigarette and cursed the damned experience for making him a better person.
I honestly loved the book.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“The truth is, every son raised by a single mom is pretty much married. I don’t know, but until your mom dies it seems like all the other women in your life can never be more than just your mistress.” (page 15)
From the ever “wise” Ida Mancini, Victor’s mother: “We’ve spent so much time judging what other people created that we’ve created very, very little of our own.” (page 111)
Another that inspired more compassion for the elderly:
“…they show the movie The Pajama Game every Friday night, and every Friday all the same patients crowd in to see it for the first time.” (page 57)
“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. 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. 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.”
“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.”