Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Indie for the Holidays egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Deals Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer minions minions minions  Amazon Echo Starting at $84.99 Kindle Black Friday Deals TheGoodDinosaur Shop Now HTL

Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$12.31+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on July 17, 2012
Loved this book! So close to five stars, but it was missing just that extra bump. I'm a huge Klosterman fan. Even so, I approached his first fiction novel, Downtown Owl, apprehensively. Just wasn't convinced that he would make the jump well, especially when I saw him speak at BookPeople about how difficult he found the whole process. But none of that mattered, because I loved that book. The kind of novel I have to let stew in my brain for a while, just due to the general mood it creates. Going into the Visible Man, I thought it would be more of the same. I went into this book knowing nothing, except that it was set in Austin. Right away, I loved Klosterman's non-conventional style. The story is told through a psychologist's personal notes and transcripts. This alone probably would've made an interesting book. But Klosterman is much more ambitious than just telling a story unconventionally. He also tells a very unusual story unusually and has the "story" (the Visible Man) tell his own series of stories. The recounting of the Visible Man's people-watching/stalking were the high points of the book for me, and I'd have loved more. Something about a mentally ill man passing mental health judgment on others and then sharing this with a psychologist, who is herself seeing a therapist and questioning her own marriage and sanity, was just fascinating. That said-- the plot never really resolved itself and I didn't find any of the characters' actions to be particularly consistent. But this just makes me all the more excited for Klosterman's next novel. This reminded me a lot of a Chuck Palahniuk book, though less dark. Also the pace of this book made me curious to see a screenplay by Klosterman.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
VM is an interesting, wide-ranging, entertaining novel and worthy, if you will, of a very serious look.

Chuck Klosterman's fast-paced novel, Visible Man (VM), asks readers to consider the possibility that a scientist, Y_, has "built the suit" and "developed the cream" that renders Y_ not invisible, but incapable of being perceived. Y_ is not, he insists, "an invisible man." He does not "drink a potion and disappear...I was never invisible. I was always there." While there, but not discernible, Y_ spends his time observing the private lives of everyday people.

Why be non-visible? Y_ maintains that "the unseen reality of human behavior" can only be detected when those being observed are unaware of it. Why not deploy a hidden a camera or some other such device? Not adequate. Y_ asserts there's no substitute for being in the room with the subjects.

What we know about Y_ comes exclusively from the notes and recollections of his psychologist, Vicky (note the y) Vick. VM is itself the compendium of Vicky's recollections about treating Y_. Initially, Vicky Vick is convinced that Y_ is delusional, that he has pathologically fabricated the life of a visible, but not discernible man and arrived at a point at which he can no longer distinguish the fabricated from the real. Not long into the therapy, however, Vicky discards that assessment. Y_ , we are led to believe, makes a believer out of Vicky Vick. Encased in his suit and cream, he makes before her a non-appearance.

VM points readers in a number of directions. At one level, it's about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle applied to human relations (see footnote on p. 21) -- the modern entertainment version of which is reality TV. Some of the novel's most compelling scenes involve Y_`s inability to remain aloof -- to keep from intervening in, and thus altering the lives he observes.

At another level, VM is about the distinction between the true and the delusional believer. It was, I believe, William James, in Varieties of Religious Experience, who talked about religious believers and the reality of unseen things. Here the unseen thing, Y_, appears explicitly to have identified himself to Vicky Vick. One challenge Klosterman puts before us is to determine whether Vicky Vick is herself a delusional believer. More precisely, Klosterman urges us to ask: On what basis is such a judgment rendered? Klosterman, in other words, invites us to entertain the problem of making distinctions among the varieties of belief.

The richness of the novel stems from the quality and multiplicity of questions asked, and issues raised.

That said, make no mistake about it: VM is not an arid philosophical treatise masquerading as a novel. This is one very entertaining read.

Take, for example, the age-old question of whether and to what extent material goods provide happiness. The VM's answer: you bet they can. "You know who seemed happiest alone? Consumers. It wasn't people who read the best books or had the most hobbies. It was the people who bought the most b...t."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 23, 2012
Klosterman's main character, "Y_____", does something familiar to many therapy patients: tells stories that are not literally about his own life -- and may or may not be complete fabrications -- in order to best explain who he is. Regardless of whether he actually witnessed Swanson, Bruce, Valerie, the elderly half-Mexican man, the competitive disorder meeting, or the Heavy Dudes, Y_____ presents himself as the exact type of person who would be a composite of the people he claims to have observed. If you can relate at all to the proud, lonely characters he presents, the text is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. If you can't, it's probably a bit stranger, but still engrossing.

The deeper questions at the center of the book are the ones that Y_____ is preoccupied with -- When, if ever, are people really themselves?; How do people fit their own reality into the world around them?; can someone be narcissistic and altruistic at the same time? -- are brilliantly explored with no conclusion drawn. This obsession with the concept of human reality is found in much of Klosterman's writing, and this novel is a powerful vehicle to explore his insecurities.

As others have said, the ending feels rushed. It is also a somewhat harsh verdict, though ultimately fair to the characters.

A fast read, and highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 12, 2013
This was a strange and uncomfortable read, the way adventurous things often are strange and uncomfortable. THE VISIBLE MAN is a bold project, visibly inspired by H.G Wells' timeless THE INVISIBLE MAN, both in content and in style. It's going to sound crazy, but there was an artificial sense of emptiness to that novel. Chuck Klosterman is an author that breaks down our relantionship to our direct environment, through our most mundane actions and the fact that this zesting self-consciousness is not part of that novel (well, not quite, Klosterman can never completely tame the beast) makes it feel awkwardly empty.

But the novel is everything but empty. It's fueled by a haunting existential question : who are we, really, when we're completely alone ? The co-protagonist Y___ is consumed by this question and it drove him to 'the cutting edge of science' to find answers. But as the human experience often is ironic, his adventures are mainly a reflection of himself and THE VISIBLE MAN is an odd game of mirrors that end in quite a surprising fashion. I feel it was a bit wild and loose for Klosterman's extremely high quality standards, but it's hard to blame boldness. I love to see one of my favorite authors experiment with the freedom of fiction. Means there is more where it comes from.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 23, 2013
I love just about everything Klosterman writes and this book was no exception. It's equal parts science fiction, pop-psychology and with a little Stephen King sprinkled in. I found the book entertaining and easy to read. I also appreciate Klosterman's minimalist style. He leaves out just enough important details to leave you wondering and maybe fill in some of the missing facts yourself. I'm always happy with a book (like this one) that leaves me with more questions than answers. He also makes some very troubling observations about the nature of relationships and the relationship of money to happiness. If you've struggled with these issues in your own life (I'm just guessing you may have), there may be something for you here. Finally, the story is hilarious in places. My favorite line: "At one point they were trying to genetically engineer a Wookie in Greenland. I'm not kidding. They wanted to build an army of f***ing Chewbacccas for hand-to-hand warfare in arctic climates." Give me a million years and I couldn't write a line like that...In any case, well worth a reasonable investment of your time to read and I look forward to reading more from this talented writer.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Let me start by saying that I LOVE Chuck Klosterman's pop culture dissections (Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs; Killing Yourself To Live; Fargo Rock City). I think that he's got a voice when he's discussing the minutiae of music, movies, and popular culture that I haven't heard matched by any other pop-culture critic.

However, I've been less impressed with his attempts at original works of fiction (this novel and Downtown Owl). While his voice is still present in both books, the stories themselves aren't particularly compelling. His characters don't draw me in, plain and simple.

The Visible Man seemed to be mainly a vehicle for Klosterman to discuss his fascination with voyeurism and understanding how people *really* are (when no one's looking). While I think that it's an interesting topic to discuss, I wasn't overly impressed with the way that it was packaged in this story. If you're looking to read Klosterman and haven't before, I'd recommend you start with the aforementioned Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs or Fargo Rock City - they are much better representations of Klosterman's unique talents.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 16, 2012
I really enjoyed Chuck Klosterman's collection of essays "Eating the Dinosaur," and found him to be one of America's freshest and most original voices. There was something magically irreverent in his tone and attitude, almost to the point of courageous. His novel "The Visible Man" shows that he's a far stronger essayist than he is a novelist.

There are some parts of "The Visible Man" which are funny and interesting, but for the most part it reads as a lame thought experiment or a one-person stage monologue. Its repetitive and verbose mean that it can be at times frustrating to read. What saves the book from pure mundanity is Klosterman's effortless and easy prose -- he's very kind on the ear.

The best part of the book are the narratives into the contradictory and absurd lives of individuals alone -- how they live in perpetual conflict with themselves, and how they do so to escape their intense loneliness. If Klosterman focused on just telling the story as a first-person narrative, rather than add the redundant layer of the psychologist analyzing her patient then the book would be much stronger.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 6, 2013
Like all of Klosterman's writing, I always leave thinking i'll have some decent funny material to work into a conversation later. Unfortunately, it's too clever at times, and I can never quite say it the way he does.

The Visible Man is told from the viewpoint of a therapist who is treating a man. This man has figured out how to make himself invisible, and has used this discovery to spy on random people, in order to observe their behavior and somehow figure out something about humanity.

Like I said before, the writing is very clever, and he has some astute observations about our society. The book as a whole works, but I finished it feeling that he (Klosterman) could have done more. It didn't feel like he explored all of the possibilities.

All in all, it's not a bad read. I would certainly recommend it, but it isn't at the top of my list.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 16, 2012
The story isn't so much about an anti-social genius (Y__) who creates an invisible suit as much as its about his therapist who becomes seduced by his almost supernatural ability and voyeuristic occupation. The story is narrated by the therapist as she tries to recall the details of their sessions that involve him telling stories of spying on people as they go about their mundane lives in an attempt to see their true selves. At a certain point it becomes clear that Y__ may be a pathalogical liar and although he can truly become invisible all of the stories may be lies told to manipulate his therapist who he has obviously spied on before.

Not much happens in the story until the 3rd part but the theme of the book seems to be about how we choose to create our own realities rather than deal with our problems and who we are.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 23, 2014
After reading a lot of his essays on the Internet and reading two of his non-fiction novels, I was ready for a Klosterman make believe book ... and I was blown away!

Very quick to the point and amazingly well written and sharp.

The story is written as a psychologist lady who gets a very unique patient: a man with the ability to cloak himself and a fetish for voyeurism. The man than expounds at great length about what he has seen while studying (spying, invading the privacy of) random people.

I could read about the different people's lives as seen by this character for another whole book. If this were a Blu Ray, the extra features would have dozen of different stories added as deleted scenes.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this also viewed
I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)
I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman (Paperback - July 1, 2014)

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman (Paperback - July 2, 2004)

Eating the Dinosaur
Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman (Paperback - July 6, 2010)

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.