Last year I did not tackle any of Chuck Palahniuk’s collection, though I did mention my constant struggle with him in my review of Robbins’ Another Roadside Attraction as follows:
“I absolutely adored Fight Club, but none of his other novels has met that bar. Yet, I keep reading him. While I do enjoy most of his works, I am frequently left with a less favorable aftertaste, as they are not as well executed as Fight Club. My extreme love for Fight Club possibly warped my ability to fully enjoy the rest of Chuck’s collection.”
Invisible Monsters is the closest I have come in my Palahniuk adventures to thoroughly applauding his genius as I did with Fight Club. Closest but still no cigar.
The heart of Invisible Monsters is a beautiful one; an exploration (albeit a twisted, graphic, and gory one) on the struggles of self-identity and body image and the difficult (Tarantinoesque) journey to becoming the person you want to be. The characters, though beyond heightened, evince kernels of universal truths. The overall plot line, engaging and quirky. But. But. But. It just gets to be too much, Chuck. Chunks of the novel involve road trip like expeditions with 3 of our main characters, and after a certain number of these excursions I was done with them. Yet, they kept trucking along. Similar in essence to the road tripping adventures of Humbert Humbert and Lolita, but instead with a newly disfigured former model going through an existential crisis, a pill-popping transgender woman who is the glue holding it all together, and a fairly unnecessary jerk of a guy.
When the Prozac Nation tour isn’t occurring, we are jumping back and forth in a convoluted time line of our mutilated model. While this backstory ultimately ties some loose ends together, it is once again, TOO MUCH, and hindered my empathy towards our anti-heroine as opposed to enhancing it.
All of that being said, Palahniuk executed the ending of Invisible Monsters masterfully (a trait he often lacks), and, as mentioned before, the overall arch and concept is strong.
Though this wasn’t quite kissing another Palahniuk frog, it still wasn’t the prince I’ve been hoping for.
Rating: 3.5 Brandy Alexanders