- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Scribner (June 5, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 143918447X
- ISBN-13: 978-1439184479
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 97 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Visible Man: A Novel Paperback – June 5, 2012
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“Richly drawn and dryly funny…Klosterman is terrifically expressive, funny company.... Klosterman’s unique voice is never less than right out in the open.” —Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Chuck Klosterman is the bestselling author of many books of nonfiction (including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, I Wear the Black Hat, Fargo Rock City and Chuck Klosterman X) and two novels (Downtown Owl and The Visible Man). He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Guardian, The Believer, Billboard, The A.V. Club, and ESPN. Klosterman served as the Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine for three years, and was an original founder of the website Grantland with Bill Simmons.
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Klosterman's other work of fiction, Downtown Owl, had this same characteristic. In both books, most of the text takes the form of dense musings that is unmistakably in Klosterman's voice. All the characters speak in Klosterman's voice as well. Plot is, at most, a small framing device for the dense musings... until Chuck starts running out of ideas that fit into this framing device, so he conjures a major event out of nowhere and uses that as an excuse to end the book.
This is even more transparent in The Visible Man. There are two main characters. One of them is a blatant author self-insert: he speaks in Chuck Klosterman essays. The other has barely any agency -- she's essentially a stand-in for someone reading Chuck Klosterman essays. The book is written from the audience stand-in's first-person perspective, and her narration amounts to Chuck Klosterman telling you how he thinks, or wishes, other people react to his philosophy. It gets irritating after a while. For about four-fifths of the book, nothing actually happens. The Visible Man's book-ending major event fits the rest of the book better than Downtown Owl's does, but it, and the perfunctory progression leading up to it, feels like an afterthought. The book would actually be better served without this ending, I think -- it contains little or none of the musings that make the rest of the book interesting, and it's thoroughly unsatisfying. There's no reason for it to be there other than that the book is intended to be fiction.
All that said, however, a book of Chuck Klosterman non-fiction with a bit of window-dressing is still an enjoyable thing to read. Even though his writing style seems deliberately obtuse at times, it's still fun to read, and his thoughts are still interesting to hear. I just wish he'd stop pretending his non-fiction is fiction. If he's going to write something and call it a novel, it should have a plot that stands on its own.
It's been awhile since I read it, so there are things I am forgetting, but I feel the only reason I give it 4 rather than 5 stars is that although I really enjoyed it, I don't feel like it was something so great and so memorable that it would stay with me forever. With that said, I still highly recommend it.
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.
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.
I love science and thoughtful insights into the mind. When the two are combined it doesn't get any better than a man who has worked on cloaking and can become invisible. I had never thought whether a shadow would form with an invisible object. This man goes to a psychiatrist for help in managing his desires and to feel "un-guilty" after some mishaps learning to deal with his fate. Just a real good divination into some "taken for granted" physics without cloaking knowledge. This book even left me wondering if this awareness of the subject could be based on a real discovery yet to become public.
Would recommend; it'll creep you out!