Thursday, October 6, 2011

Operation Chuck: Invisible Monsters

In my quest to read the assorted works of Chuck Palahniuk before he makes an appearance at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 20th (Go to the event!  Buy a book from them!  Buy 12!  Keep me employed! ...Subtle?), I am officially reporting that I've now completed three books.  The latest was Invisible Monsters.  This one was about transgendered wannabe super-models, hideous self-inflicted disfigurement in the name of beauty, and the joys of revenge and stealing pharmaceuticals from open houses.

Give me outrage.

I did like the structure of Invisible Monsters.  Much like Fight Club used the "I am Jack's ruptured colon"-type transitions to convey the protagonist's emotional state, Invisible Monsters utilized the photographer's hypothetical instructions to a model to convey the anti-heroine's feelings.  Anti-heroine, you ask?  Yep.  I pretty much found all of the characters in this book to be shallow and generally horrible...monstrous, if you will.  I think that's the point.

Give me a general sense of bewilderment.

I wonder if anyone in a Chuck Palahniuk universe has a "normal" job and isn't addicted to a substance of some sort.  Perhaps like the movie American Beauty, Palahniuk's point is that their is no average family, average person, that everyone is secretly a psychic prostitute or transgender beauty queen wannabe or white collar weekend warrior with rage issues.  In this way Chuck's books seem unrealistic, but deliberately so.  They are modern fairy tales of a sort, or cautionary tales.

Give me hilarious exaggeration.

One of my favorite scenes in Invisible Monsters involved one of the worst Christmases ever.  The main character's older brother runs away after their parents discover he's gay and throw him out of the house.  Later someone calls the house to say that the brother has died of AIDS.  The parents swing the other way, suddenly becoming PFLAG supporters and activists for gay rights.  Their whole world becomes gay rights.  And for Christmas, because their focus is still entirely their dead gay son even years later, they decide to give their daughter....condoms.  Lots and lots of boxes of condoms.  Condoms for every sort of sexual encounter you can imagine.  And they proceed to describe the benefits and sexual experiences suitable for the various types of rubbers.  It's "the talk" on steroids.  This scene is pure awkward, comic genius.

Give me total mental collapse.

I keep reminding myself that the Operation Chuck challenge was my idea.  It's been an experience thus far, to say the least.  I'm diving into what I will consider Chuck's greater works now, in that they are the ones published by Random House.  I am a corporate whore.  I'm not ashamed.

Next: Lullaby

1 comment:

  1. You're cracking me up but I can also safely say I will probably never read one of his books. I like dark but maybe not quite SO dark :)