Wednesday, October 12, 2011

But there was no way to turn back gracefully now.

Choke On Your Lies is an interesting premise. When the story starts out it seems like something out of a The White Male Fuck-Up Novel (thanks BookRiot!): guy's wife has just told him she wants a divorce and the house and guy finds out wife has been cheating on him. And the guy Mick is pretty pathetic. No, I'm sorry, painfully pathetic. If I wasn't already familiar with Anthony Neil Smith's work like Hogdoggin' I'd assume this is going to be something along the lines of Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You. But no no, Smith has something else in mind. And that something else is Octavia.

Octavia is an awful person that you start rooting for against all better judgement. She's not even a misunderstood person, a bitch with a heart of gold. She does have some people she's close to and she's very loyal to them. She's far from kind to them, just loyal.  But otherwise she is spiteful and snobbish and a genius who has no problem manipulating people for her own needs. Actually it's not just that she has no problem, it's that she enjoys manipulating people. It's her hobby. She's a big girl and she uses that weight to make her living by suing big name companies for discriminating against her. Now she's decided to throw her weight* behind Mick and help him with his impending divorce to "punish the bitch". Mick knows this is a mistake but when his soon-to-be ex-wife tries to steal the house from him with a forged document it's enough for him to accept Octavia's help.
I just hoped I wasn't opening her Pandora's box, for I was sure there was no hope to be found at the bottom.
So of course what starts with such a simple premise turns so dark with a crazy dinner party, drug busts, a few murders, some blackmail and a swingers club. See what happens when you let Octavia loose? I don't mean to suggest she orchestrated all this stuff but you certainly get the feeling that this could have been an almost amicable divorce if she hadn't gotten involved. And that is what makes it such an engaging story; to know the characters make a small decision and then they have to deal with the consequences of that moment for the rest of the story.

Side note, the strange relationship between Jennings and Octavia provided some of my favorite moments that made me both like and hate Octavia that much more.

*Pun! I'm hilarious

Title quote from location 3356

Smith, Anthony Neil. Choke On Your Lies. 2011. Kindle edition.