I don't think Chuck Klosterman has written a book that I didn't read in a single day. His narrative voice is labyrinthine, prone to odd tangents, but (to me, at least) fiercely addictive. I love his essays and I didn't not love his first novel, Downtown Owl. But I'm not sure I ever bought the concept of Downtown Owl as a novel, per se. It had the same aimless, armchair-philosopher feel of his nonfiction, and really struck me as more a handful of essays through the mouths of invented characters.
I was pleasantly surprised, then, by how much The Visible Man IS actually a novel. As other reviewers have noted, there is still some philosophical heft here, revolving mainly around questions of self and whether the person that we are around others is ever in a real sense the person we truly are at our core. The invisible-esque man is convinced that only observations of people when they believe they are alone are valid glimpses at their true self, and whether or not you agree, it's a fascinating conundrum.
But unlike Downtown Owl, I really felt like this was a story, and not an essay with characters in it. The semi-unreliable narrator (or rather, narrator who is very aware of her own shortcomings) is likeable and reads as a character with her own personality, and her nameless client is a wonderfully written balance between charisma and total sociopathy. You can see how our therapist becomes fixated on him and his bizarre worldview, but we never quite lose sight of his disturbing undercurrents, and the ending feels both surprising and inevitable.
I was hooked on this right away, and almost resented the interruptions of daily life that kept me from finishing it in one sitting. I'm pleased that Klosterman has finally made the jump to writing fiction that stands on its own two legs, and I'm excited to see what he'll do next.