The author of Fight Club (1996) takes as the hero of his fourth novel an unlovable loser who doesn’t blame Mom.
Victor Mancini always knew she was crazy, but he loves her all the same. Ida’s in a nursing home now, and Victor works two jobs to keep her there. The legit one involves donning breeches and wig to playact at Colonial Dunsboro, a fake 18th-century village. The other consists of pretending to choke in fancy restaurants, which nets him the sympathy of the saps who perform the Heimlich maneuver and then send checks, hoping to perpetuate the warm glow of their momentary heroism. In between choking spells, Victor listens patiently to Ida’s reminiscences of her days as a practicing anarchist, on the road with him when she wasn’t in jail and he wasn’t in foster care. His father? Victor doesn’t know, but he might find out from Ida’s diary—too bad it’s written in Italian. Victor, however, has other things to occupy his mind. There’s always the Internet and his favorite Website featuring photos of an obese man who bends over and lets a trained orangutan put chestnuts up his ass. Victor can protect his stupid slacker pal Denny, usually clapped in the stocks at Dunsboro, or help him lug home the enormous rocks he collects. When all else fails, Victor gets up close and personal with any willing, lust-besotted female from the 12-step sexaholic program he attends. But he does wonder now and then about his dad—until a doctor at the nursing home translates the diary and informs him that he was conceived from the DNA of a sacred relic: the putative foreskin of Jesus Christ. Hey, Victor doesn’t believe it either. Then, finally, his mother tells him the truth.
Palahniuk is a cheerful nihilist with a mordant wit and a taste for scatological humor. Fair warning: some may find his language and imagery offensive.