From the Nightstand: The Visible Man

I tend to want to like Chuck Klosterman more than I actually do. I assume I like him. I’ve read most of his non-fiction essay collections (Fargo Rock City, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs etc…).  I find that usually they’re funny at the beginning then wander off lost near the end. Start strong and then fizzle… Kind sounds like me… ummm…
Anyway… yeah… and I did actually like his last novel, Downtown Owl. I just never thought about it afterwards.

Usually, I find that his writing tends to be like Douglas Coupland’s (who I totally respect immensely in all areas but stay away from his fiction). No one I’ve ever met talks like characters in either of these authors’ books. No one… which makes it hard to believe their writing as anything but a story. It’s hard to grasp such witty conversation when most of the conversations I’ve ever had in life sound nothing like them (which might just mean that I’m an idiot… but I’m not quite ready to admit that yet).

Anyway…

The Visible Man, Klosterman’s second novel, is a departure from predictability.

The novel is centred around Y____, and his therapist Vicki. Y____ seems to have a slight problem, and needs to get some things off of his chest. He can be, thanks to technology, completely invisible. Just like that. He can sit in people’s homes and watch them live their boring lives without them knowing. He can sit at a kitchen table and watch men arguing about science and observe how condescending they can be to one another. He can be a fly on the wall and do whatever he wants. He could do any number of evil and horrible things, but he doesn’t want to. All he wants to do is watch.
Doing this makes him feel guilty, and leads him to therapy.

What I enjoy most about this book, even though it is slow moving and told through Vicki’s notes of their therapy sessions, is that it’s a compelling read. Beginning with Y____’s anger that his therapist doesn’t believe that he can be invisible. His meandering tirades about nothing in particular. The unveiling of his secret gift. Vicki’s complete obsession with her patient once she sees (or doesn’t see) for herself that he can make himself invisible. It goes by quickly.

So, in a nutshell, I would really recommend this book. And now, in hindsight, I feel tempted to re-read Klosterman’s past works to see if there is something that I missed… Maybe… or maybe he’s turned a corner and has become an author that will have a huge future in fiction…

I hope so!

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