I have recently had the pleasure of reading Chuck Palahnuik’s Invisible Monsters.
The name probably sounds familiar because he is also the writer of Fight Club.
There is actually a funny bit of history when it comes to Invisible Monsters and Fight Club. See, Chuck wrote Monsters first and got rejected because the publisher said that the book was too graphic and disturbing (they might have had a point).
So, Chuck, in a fit of spite, wrote Fight Club as a kind of “fuck you” in order to show them just how graphic and disturbing a novel can be.
Of course, the publishers loved it and Fight Club became wildly successful and pretty much catapulted him into the spotlight. Naturally, they gave Invisible Monsters a chance.
And I’m glad they did.
Invisible Monsters is a remarkable book. Told in the first person, it follows a supermodel whose jaw gets blown off in a bizarre turn of events.
Because nobody wants to look at the horror that is her face, she calls herself an invisible monster and soon teams up with a transgendered woman and her insanely attractive male companion. The three of them then tour the country stealing pills from the houses of wealthy people.
I know the plot doesn’t sound like much, but that’s because I’m explaining it linearly. The narrator jumps around from past and present, making things much more interesting as questions are posed then answered. The plot is not the crown jewel of this novel.
Palahniuk has a gift for writing first person narration. It feels like I, the reader, am having a conversation with this character (even though she can’t talk, you know, cause of her jaw…). She’s telling me her story. And even though she skips around and gets side-tracked, I’m hooked.
The cast is colorful, from the narrator’s bombshell transgendered mentor, Brandy Alexander, to her paranoid parents who can’t get over their gay son’s AIDS related death.
Chuck does a great job of weaving a common thread through such a diverse crowd- everyone suffers from self-inflicted wounds, caused in part from an effort to reinvent themselves.
Identity plays such a huge role in this story, as the characters are constantly changing their names and background stories. They mutilate their bodies in an effort to adapt themselves to the image the have for themselves. Some even do it just to stave off boredom,unwilling to live an ordinary life.
All of them are trying to reinvent who they are. All of them are trying to write their own stories.
And it’s a breeze to read. I mean, I would sit and knock out fifty pages without even realizing it. The writing is just so damn accessible. And Palahniuk does a great job of teasing readers with questions and answers. I kept reading because I wanted to know who these people really were and the flow of information came at a trickle until the very end.
Overall, this was a great book and I was glad that I read it. Did I like it more than Fight Club? No, but it’s a great read in its own right. If you liked Fight Club, I would definitely recommend it.