Monday, 23 April 2012
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
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.