Saturday, March 5, 2016

Book Report: Chuck Palahniuk's "Invisible Monsters"

"Nothing of me is original, I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known."
 Invisible Monsters is Chuck Palahniuk's third published novel and tells the story of an up-and-coming fashion model horribly disfigured by a stray bullet that leaves her horribly disfigured. Her jaw is gone, unable to talk, she goes from being the center of attention to a horrible monster no one can bear to look at. She embarks on a road trip with a stunning transsexual and her ex fiance to steal drugs and hormones from rich old people's open houses.

 The story itself is deceptively simple though it jumps schizophrenically between four different points in the story: the model with her parent's during holidays, modeling with her best friend, her in the hospital after the accident and on the road with the other two characters getting into shenanigans. I did seem to predict the larger plot points and twists, being familiar with Palahniuk's work. Also, I did miss his novel writing quirks present in his later works (like the oral biography in Rant or the epistolary screeds of Pygmy). I'd still say give it a read. You'll either love it or hate it.

 Plot and Characters aside, the Themes really shine here. Much like Fight Club, the central theme seems to be self destruction, whereas it seems the narrator had something to prove in his slow decent into madness and domestic terrorism, the cast of Invisible Monsters seem hell bent on doing nothing but spiting their parents. They know they're not original, a copy of a copy of a copy, so instead of trying to meet the expectations of their parents (who, like in Fight Club, are also analogous to God) and society, they try instead to be monsters in their own respective ways in a desperate attempt to be original.

All in all, I'd say it was pretty good. I'm not much of a fashionista, so if you're really not interested in our jaw-less protagonist talking for page after page about what the other characters are wearing like Tyler Durden talked about saponification and explosives, just skim it like I did. I don't think I missed much.

As a note, I'd like to say these were my impressions after reading the straight novel version of Invisible Monsters, not the Remix version, which is a retooling with late era Palahniuk's characteristically ergodic flair. I'm looking forward to that, for sure.

Big Mike.