Monday, 23 April 2012

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club for girls.  Or transexuals, anyway.

The plot's about a model who's had her jaw shot off by persons unknown.  She teams up with a beautiful pre-op tranny called Brandy Alexander and her brain damaged former boyfriend, who may have been the one who shot her, and who is definitely gay.  They spend most of their time stealing and taking prescription drugs.  It ends in revenge, gunshots, fire and redemption.

This feels very much like a companion piece to Fight Club.  At the centre is a love/hate relationship between the nameless narrator and their glamorous and dangerous alter ego.   But it's the differences which make it interesting - it's all about the feminine rather than the masculine; in this it's the narrator who really knows what's going on (or thinks she does.)  And it's outrageously camp.  But in retrospect, so is Fight Club.

I did wonder when reading it whether it was self-consciously a female version of CP's more famous novel.  In fact, Invisible Monsters was the first book he wrote, so it's really quite an achievement. The narrative's nonlinear, and people change names, gender and personalities, but instead of being confusing it actually drives the story.  I also was really impressed by some of the less extravagant aspects.  I found the relationship between the narrator and Brandy really quite touching.  The way the narrator's parents cope with the death of their son is also funny and sad.

I think I did read this back in the day - or more likely two thirds of it - but it was well worth revisiting.  It was a book on tape, and I listened in one go on the long drive from Birmingham to Aberdeen.  Few better ways to spend a journey.


Katbalou said...

Nice review Odber. Get yourself over to my blog:

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ok i can comment :-)

I find Chuk's books a bit like chewing gum or candy floss... very tasty at first butthen gets tasteless/makes you sick.
that is maybe a bit harsh as they always exite and interest me. Space candy?

I finished Never let mego. Shit was compelling but depressing. No way you are taking my organs without a fight.

- bryce

Joe said...

Yeah Bryce - people are desperate for your organs.

I do know what you're talking about CP's books, but that's why I liked how Invisible Monsters had a bit of heart to counteract the outrageous horribleness.