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Invisible Monsters: A Novel Paperback – September 17, 1999
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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-meets-Yentl 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
From Publishers Weekly
Palahniuk's grotesque romp aims to skewer the ruthless superficiality of the fashion world and winds up with a tale as savagely glib as what it derides. Narrator Shannon McFarland, once a gorgeous fashion model, has been hideously disfigured in a mysterious drive-by shooting. Her jaw has been shot off, leaving her not only bereft of a career and boyfriend, but suddenly invisible to the world. Along comes no-nonsense, pill-popping diva Brandy Alexander, a resplendent, sassy, transgendered chick, who has modeled her body rearrangement--the breast implants, the hair, the figure--on what Shannon used to look like. Brandy suggests veils, high camp and no self-pity. Shannon wants revenge[...] Adding to the plot's contrivances are the relentless flashbacks, heralded at the beginning of almost every paragraph with "Jump back to..." and the author's pretentious device of using a fashion photographer's commands ("Flash. Give me adoration. Flash. Give me a break") to signpost the narrator's epiphanies. Palahniuk writes like he's overdosed on Details magazine. Though the absurd surprise ending may incite groans of disbelief, this book does have fun moments when campy banter tops the heroine's flat, whiny bathos. (Sept.) FYI: The film of Palahniuk's novel Fight Club will star Brad Pitt.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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His writing is good and the characters are definitely compelling! I found Brandy Alexander to be my favorite.
The only thing that kind of got to me is there was so many freaking twists! After like the third one, I felt a little like it was cheating to keep the story going. If that kind of thing bothers you, I wouldn't suggest this book then. But to me, I enjoyed them even though there was so many. It did keep me reading, so there's that ;)
Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of the way through the book it became an addiction and I tore through the remainder in no time at all. Can’t recommend enough.
Mr. Palahniuk is definitely one of the creative ones out there who knows how to grab you and just glue you to his many stories.
If you have a very vivid imagination, it is likely that you may appreciate and enjoy this book.
If you don't, it's still a pretty good read to pass the time and to take you away from reality for a brief moment.
As I did expect having been familiar with his two films, and following what appears to be Palahniuk's style, he develops a bizarre story based around typical, every day and otherwise normal people and situations. Nonetheless, this book did push the limit as far as "bizarre-ness" is defined in my book.
The characters definitely push the edge of what is defined as socially acceptable behavior, which in my opinion, is a technique used by Palahniuk to bring humor and awkwardness into rather normal everyday circumstances.
The story premise didn't much interest me. As other reviewers have mentioned, Invisible Monsters takes a bit of "Sex and the City", "Fight Club" and "Galmour Magazine" and meshes them all together. In one sentence, I might call it the "Fight Club" for women.
My next read is Survivor, another book by Palahniuk. Bottom line, I wasn't disappointed nor overly thrilled with Invisible Monsters.
This book IS recommended for:
- Those interested in a light, week-long read.
- Fashion conscious women who have been forced by their boyfriends/husbands to watch "Fight Club" over and over again.
- Those who enjoy bizarre stories, odd twists and extremely lyrical writing styles.
This book is NOT recommended for:
- Children under 18.
- Readers that might be offended by the mention of sex-changes, transvestites, gay sex, and any other questionable topic that lies in between.
- Not recommended for those readers who easily get lost in too many metaphorical and lyrical comparisons.