Chuck Palahniuk manages to find his way onto my reading lists a lot. Much of any review would necessarily focus upon his works as a whole before dealing with the specific book at hand. Palahniuk’s telltale style (which some readers call his weakness) is evident in this book, as in every one since Fight Club. In this particular case, Palahniuk’s narrative style is purposefully and potently synchronic, jumping around from instance to instance. Because I’m so familiar with Palahniuk’s morbid plot devices, however, I could more or less predict the twists before they occurred.
Invisible Monsters tells the story of a former model who loses much of her lower face (jaw included) in an accident on the freeway. That the back cover puts “accident” in quotes should telegraph something right away. She then ends up traveling around the country with a transvestite named Brandy Alexander1 jacking prescription medications from houses for sale.
I can’t honestly say that any of Palahniuk’s novels are normal, but this more than any other gave me a sense of surrealism: the memories of conversations were otherworldly, the character motivations unexplainable, the physical laws stretched thin. In many ways, it just wasn’t quite as satisfyingly real as many of his other books.
I really enjoy Palahniuk’s books, but at this point, I begin to see the validity in the criticism that every Chuck Palahniuk book is the same thing, but with different names and a different motif. I’m excited to see what he’s doing with Haunted, as I loved “Guts.” I don’t expect an entirely different creature to come crawling out of Chuck’s word processor, but I would like to see him play with different styles, different characterizations, and something written to be moving, rather than beguiling.
- “I’m just a sweet transvestite, from transsexual Transylvania….. huh huh!”[↩]