When the plot of your first novel
partially hinges on anarchist overthrows funded by soap sales, and the narrative hook of your second work
is the black box recorder of a jet moments away from slamming into the Australian outback, it stands to reason that your audience is going to be ready for anything. Which, to an author like Chuck Palahniuk, must sound like a challenge. Palahniuk's third identity crisis (that's "novel" to you), Invisible Monsters
, more than ably responds to this call to arms. Set once again in an all-too-familiar modern wasteland where social disease and self-hatred can do more damage than any potboiler-fiction bad guy, the tale focuses particularly on a group of drag queens and fashion models trekking cross-country to find themselves, looking everywhere from the bottom of a vial of Demerol to the end of a shotgun barrel. It's a sort of Drugstore Cowboy
affair, or a Hope-Crosby road movie with a skin graft and hormone-pill obsession, if you know what I mean.
Um, yeah. Anyway, the Hollywood vibe doesn't stop these comparisons. As with Fight Club and Survivor, the book is invested with a cinematic sweep, from the opening set piece, which takes off like a house afire (literally), to a host of filmic tics sprayed throughout the text: "Flash," "Jump back," "Jump way ahead," "Flash," "Flash," "Flash." You get the idea. It's as if Palahniuk didn't write the thing but yanked it directly out of the Cineplex of his mind's eye. Does it succeed? Mostly. Still working on measuring out the proper dosages of his many writerly talents (equal parts potent imagery, nihilistic coolspeak, and doped-out craziness), Palahniuk every now and then loosens his grip on the story line, which at points becomes as hard to decipher as your local pill addict's medicine cabinet. However Invisible Monsters works best on a roller-coaster level. You don't stop and count each slot on the track as you're going down the big hill. You throw up your hands and yell, "Whee!" --Bob Michaels
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Welcome to the world of perverse self-mutilation, insane coincidences and extreme makeovers speckled with violent acts and prescription drugs. After surviving a gunshot wound that destroyed half her face, Shannon meets the vivacious Brandy Alexander, whose glamorous nature seduces her into traveling cross-country in a delightful and ironic crime spree. In typical Palahniuk fashion, the story leaps about in an erratic and initially bewildering manner, but ultimately makes sense. Anna Fields executes a brilliant performance through Shannon's first-person narrative. Her smooth and stable tone leads listeners through this deliciously chaotic tale. When Shannon speaks, Fields proves both amusing and impressive. Her magnificent performance only adds to Palahniuk's story. Norton paperback(Reviews, July 5, 1999). (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.