Sunday, 10 April 2016

Book #16

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk


She's a catwalk model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But when a sudden motor 'accident' leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech, she goes from being the beautiful centre of attention to being an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge she exists. 
Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from being a real woman, who will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better, and that salvation hides in the last place you'll ever want to look.

I just don't get the fascination with Palahniuk. Yes, he's edgy, disturbing, and presents us with stories the like of which we'll never had read before. But really, really, that's all he is, he's shock factor, and it surprises me that so many people will defend him so drastically.

Invisible Monsters left me with a similar feeling to most of his other novels (except Pygmy; I really liked Pygmy); an excellent premise which fell flat and disappointed me.

Don't get me wrong, there were some excellent features to this one. I liked the conversational narrative style, feeling as though I were being told a story by someone I couldn't quite trust, someone who is holding back the important parts until the very last minute. I liked the non-linear timeline of the plot; we're fed information in short bursts, coming back to the present before being catapulted again into a different time and place (the Remix edition of the novel forces the reader to flip through the novel and back again to piece the plot together, similar to choose your own adventure stories. I'm glad I wasn't subjected to this). I liked Palahniuk's female voice, despite initial misgivings into how he was going to pull it off.

This read a lot like Fight Club with Palahniuk forcing us to think about our own lives in that overly pretentious way of his. Again, I thought, had this been any other author, I could have been much more on board with the satire. He employs a horribly sardonic 'tell' voice that offends me. We know we all buy into the concept of beauty, we know the dangers of striving for perfection; I don't need a holier than thou cult author guy blowing a model's face off to patronise me about it.

Although no expert in the field of LGBT, I didn't feel it was dealt with, or researched, well at all. Without spoiling any of the plot points, Palahniuk wrote his LGBT characters as caricatures; totally over the top and unbelievable. The novel was written in 1999, and I feel we're making more progress as a society now, but also don't feel that is any kind of excuse. I was disgusted in parts, and there was really no need for it.

Final thoughts: what I'd give to go back in time and punch my younger self into submission to stop her buying a Palahniuk novel every time she entered a charity shop.

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