Review :: Invisible Monsters

A review of Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters


Invisible Monsters“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 sounds vague like you’re going in knowing nothing…and that’s true, but that’s how I experienced it and that’s how I’d recommend you experience it.

I’ve never been particularly bothered about reading Chuck Palahniuk, but had a feeling I’d eventually get around to it. And when that day came, I knew I didn’t want my first Palahniuk to be Fight Club*. Invisible Monsters was my library’s most recent Palahniuk audiobook acquisition, so I picked it up.
*I enjoyed the film Fight Club…though it always makes me think “OK, so money is terrible and acquiring things is terrible and capitalism is terrible…but…you’re not giving your book/film/merchandise away for free…, man.” I feel similarly about a lot of things (some of which I enjoy regardless, some of which I don’t and the irony/hypocrisy just becomes the cherry on top). And, truth be told, I’m not sure that even matters.

Anyway, having seen Fight Club, there are a lot of things I already expected from Palahniuk’s stories and writing style, and Invisible Monsters delivered just that–nothing more, nothing less. I enjoyed this story and I would recommend it. I can see why people like his writing and consume his stories although I think it might all grate on me after a while if I read lots at once. I couldn’t help but feel it was often intentionally ‘shocking’ without actually feeling shocking…to me…(or maybe that just reveals how desensitised blahblahblah). But I appreciated the humour interspersed with the grotesque. It all feels very American (in that clever* kind of way that you often forget Americans can be…haa**).
*I’m not sure this is the word I mean exactly.
**Forgive me, American friends! I jest! I jest!

Anna Fields does a fantastic job narrating this audiobook. It took a little getting used to her pace. Although I think she completely does the book justice and delivers it perfectly, it sometimes feels like everything’s happening too quickly to process Palahniuk’s easily flowing quips.

There should probably be a warning for those easily shocked by gross stuff, adult content, violence (I guess?…but not really) and so on. This is story feels like it could be made into a film too. I wonder if all of his books feel like that; almost conscious of their ‘filmability’…

rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 stars)
genre: mystery, dark humour, social commentary
publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
source: library
date read: 27 October 2015
recommend for: fans of Fight Club
pros: fun, weird, fast-paced, like a film in your head
cons: fast-paced, very punchy/dramatic/intentionally ‘shocking’


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5 Responses to Review :: Invisible Monsters

  1. Pingback: Getting a sense of 'nationality' from a novel - Pages and Pineapples

  2. pagesandpineapples says:

    Heh, I like your point re: the irony of an anti-capitalist book like Fight Club being sold for profit 😉

    Just curious – would you mind expanding a little on what makes a book feel ‘American’ to you? (I don’t have much clue, being unsurprisingly inundated with American culture…)

    • Nicole says:

      Haha, it was a little tongue-in-cheek because there are so many different things that go into ‘American culture’…For example, one of my favourites, John Steinbeck also feels very ‘American’ to me, but his writing is completely different from Palahniuk’s style.
      It’s actually really difficult to explain when I try to break it down…I might be better of putting together a Pinterest board or video of clips, but I guess if you think of the specific kind of ‘rush’ you get in NYC (as opposed to the kind you get in London or Paris or elsewhere); the billboards and lights and punchiness in the way people talk and, very importantly, everything in your face, that’s kind of what I mean. It feels like it uses a very punchy commercial language to satirise the very same. Palahniuk’s way of talking is exaggeration on full blast. Whereas someone like Steinbeck is very subtle and slow but to the point. His writing feels like the dust bowl and is very earnest. Palahniuk’s feels like each word is a salesman trying to sell you something and they may or may not be lying to you. It’s that smarmy cashier who says as you’re leaving the shop “Missing you already! ;D” And British satire, by contrast, is more sarcastic and dry than Palahniuk.
      I think that’s the best way I can put it, though my explanation still feels lacking because it just draws on my experiences to put the picture together…but hopefully some of that is relatable and you know what I mean by it??
      I can’t think of any other books right now that feel ‘American’ in this same way. At the moment, I believe Palahniuk is kind of a genre unto himself.

  3. moosha23 says:

    Love the idea of filmability. Seen it (felt it?) in many books I’ve read (none which come to mind that haven’t already been made into movies). I love the cover of this book so much!

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah! It’s a strange sort of experience that I feel sometimes works really well, but sometimes not so much. I’m not sure how the experience might be different had I read the hardcopy instead of listening to the audiobook (which I think is sort of the in-between of reading words and watching film)… But this was an enjoyable experience! 🙂

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