Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
(W. W. Norton & Company, 1999, 304 pages)
When I read Fight Club for SCC’s Between the Covers book club last year I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but I liked it enough to want to explore more of Palahniuk’s work which led me to Invisible Monsters. The author’s writing style is very distinct and the story jumps around in time a lot as the story progresses. We’re not privy to the protagonists’ real name until close to the end of the book, but our main character is a young woman who was working toward a promising modeling career. This career ended abruptly when a gunshot to the face left her without her lower jaw – where once all you could see was her beauty it now appears that she has become invisible as people do what they can to avoid making eye contact.
As our main character journeys through this new “life” of hers we are introduced to a diverse cast of characters that are along for the ride. Brandy Alexander, a gorgeous woman who is in the process of transitioning from being a man; Manus, our narrator’s former fiance who is connected to almost everyone else in the story; Evie, our narrator’s former best friend; and the Rhea sisters, a group of drag queens responsible for leading Brandy Alexander down her path to a new identity. We travel primarily with the narrator, Brandy, and Manus as they trek across the country looking for high-end homes for sale from which they steal a steady supply of all kinds of prescription drugs.
Each character in the novel is seeking out a new identity, a new way of being seen by the rest of the world. It’s hard to really summarize but I will say it’s an entertaining reading experience. It wasn’t what I’d expected, but I know to expect that now when reading Palahniuk’s work. If you’re intrigued I recommend picking it up.