The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman – New York Times bestselling author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Downtown Owl, “the Ethicist” of the New York. It’s next to impossible for some writers to escape how their initial success defines them, and Chuck Klosterman certainly became a successful. Klosterman’s (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) deadpan humor is on full display in this tour de force exploration of intimacy and voyeurism.
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Book Review: The Visible Man, by Chuck Klosterman
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Return to Book Page. The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman. Therapist Victoria Vick is contacted by a cryptic, unlikable man who insists his situation is unique and unfathomable. As he slowly reveals himself, Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions: He says he uses this ability to observe random individuals within their daily lives, usually when they are alone and vulnerable.
Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient and the disclosure of his increasingly bizarre and disturbing tales. Over time, it threatens her career, her marriage, and her own identity.
The Visible Man
Is this comedy, criticism, or horror? Hardcoverpages. Published Lkosterman 4th by Scribner first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Visible Manplease sign up. What do you think? See 1 question about The Visible Man…. Lists with This Book.
Oct 17, RandomAnthony rated it it was ok. Chuck Klosterman’s Visible Man sneaked up on me. When was this novel released? I read everything Klosterman writes but, honestly, this is probably his weakest work yet.
I don’t think Visible Man suffers from lack of effort. And Klosterman can’t help but be Klosterman. What do I mean? The klosteran narrator is a female psychologist but, at best, the character sounds like Chuck Klosterman in drag. I Chuck Klosterman’s Visible Man sneaked up on me. I don’t want to visualize the author in drag, thank you very much. And the visible man who seems invisible but isn’t, really, long story sounds like an angry, crazier Klosterman.
Both characters engage in the rapid-fire, brain-twisting cultural analysis inherent in the author’s catalog, usually in the form of first person essays.
I very much admire Klosterman’s cultural analysis, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t pretend the novel’s premise a man in a special suit becomes obsessed with observing people when they’re alone, then tells his psychologist all about his observations is anything but a thinly veiled vehicle for Klostermanesque commentary.
The novel has its moments, and appears to pay tribute in PK Dick both in name and style but falls way short of PKD territory. I wouldn’t start new Klosterman readers on Visible Man. I didn’t hate Visible Man. But I was kind of waiting, honestly, for the book to end. I wish I had copied the reference before I returned the novel to the library, but I remember the passage’s gist. That’s a blessing, because he’s good at what he does, but it’s a curse, I’m afraid, because he hasn’t proved he can do anything chhuck.
I get the author probably want to branch out, but The Visible Man doesn’t work, kind of kloeterman when Bruce Willis tried to sing or models try to act. You know what I mean. View all 10 comments. Aug 27, Jason Pettus rated it really liked it Shelves: Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.
I am chhuck original ma of this essay, as well chick the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally. So yes, after reading the abysmal Downtown Owl a few years ago, I infamously declared here that I would never read a Chuck Klosterman book again; and indeed, I would’ve never read this latest of his, The Visible Manif it had not randomly shown up on the “New Releases” shelf of my neighborhood library on Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.
So yes, after reading the abysmal Downtown Owl a few years ago, I infamously declared here that I would never read a Chuck Klosterman book again; and indeed, I would’ve never read this latest of his, The Visible Manif it had not randomly shown up on the “New Releases” shelf of my neighborhood library on an exact day when I was perusing it.
But now that I have, I’m sure glad I did, because the book is something I thought Klosterman incapable of; this is Klosterman quite convincingly reinventing himself, shedding his Postmodernist, Gen-X skin precisely by klpsterman a book that stabs that skin to death, sets the corpse on fire, then sh-ts all over the ashes.
And to explain that better, I need to go into a little literary theory of mine, which I’ve gone over here before but will do again, because I find it naturally interesting; and before I start, let me acknowledge that it’s an unproven theory that a lot of people don’t agree with… The basic crux is that I and a lot of others believe that Postmodernism officially died on September 11th; and by “officially” I mean “symbolically,” because as with any cultural movement, Postmodernism actually changed only gradually over a period of a few decades, with us as humans making order out of the chaos klostermah arbitrarily picking important dates in those periods to serve as beginnings and endings of such eras.
And just like how the last couple of decades of Modernism, the s and ’60s which you can also call “Late Modernism,” can be further broken up into “Beat” writers, “Pop” painters, “New Wave” filmmakers and more, so too can the last few decades of Postmodernism or “Late Postmodernism,” the s and ’90s also mn broken into subdivisions like “Generation X” writers, “Brat Pack” actors, “grunge” musicians, “Deconstructionist” architects, etc.
These are the unfortunates of any given era, because the tropes of that era are so well-known by then, the last artists of that movement can only achieve fame through cartoonish exaggerations of them; chick although many of them push through to become the groundbreakers of the next era, that group of creatives in general tends to get blamed for driving that era into the ground for good, and for necessitating the cultural shift to the new era in the first place.
And so some Postmodernists like Douglas Coupland and Bret Easton Ellis successfully did so, becoming relevant to a whole new generation by trying to strip all the cool irony and empty pop-culture references of Late Postmodernism from their work, by embracing genre conventions sometimes and wallowing in earnestness others; and then some people like Augusten Burroughs or James Frey simply didn’t, and their quasi-true, quasi-BS smartypants ’70s-laced gimmicky shtick started getting real old real fast the moment the World Trade Center was destroyed.
And so for a long time did I think Klosterman was going to fall into this latter camp, of essentially gimmicky hacks who were never able to transcend the gimmicks that gave them successes right at the end of the Postmodernist period, much like all those trendily popular “Genteel” writers of the early 20th century, huge in their own time but now nearly forgotten because of the ascendancy of Early Modernism in those same years; and especially after the bitter failure of his full-length fiction debut, Downtown Owlwhich had been hyped as his opportunity to break out of the endless clever-but-empty essays about heavy metal and breakfast cereal and celebrity interviews that his entire nonfiction career had so far been based on, but which turned out to be more like a page Chuck Klosterman article but even more quirky and precious than his journalism work, if such a thing is possible.
But with The Visible ManKlosterman has done something very smart indeed, and what a lot visibe Postmodernists have ended up doing as a transition into Sincerism see for example Eric Bogosian’s Perforated Heartwhich has the same device at its corewhich is to announce the death of Postmodernism but through a highly original, highly symbolic metaphor, a sideways look at the subject but which ultimately says more about them as ’80s and ’90s artists than the subject matter might indicate at first.
‘Visible Man’ Asks: What If No One Were Watching? : NPR
And so part of the book is written as a series of direct monologues from this literal cuck scientist, polished things that feel the most Klostermanian and I assume were the first parts the author wrote; but then perhaps realizing that he needed something more to hold it all together, part of this is written from the standpoint of the psychologist who our unnamed narrator Y.
And that’s smart of Klosterman to ma, and shows a legitimately profound jump in maturation for him as a writer; because the Klosterman of Fargo Rock City would’ve been happy with just the polished monologues themselves, and The Visible Man would’ve again been a clever but ultimately empty book like all his others, and we wouldn’t have had a chance to explore this fascinating character klosternan a much more complex way, or for Klosterman mlosterman be able to make some really critical comments about Y.
And that gets into what I was talking about before; that on top of this being a literal simple genre tale, it’s also easy to argue that on a deeper level, vislble is an autobiographical novel as well, Klosterman angrily rejecting the over-analytical pop-culture-obsessed celebrity-interviewing cartoon character he had become by the early s, literally by turning that persona into a borderline-psychotic villain.
And the reason it’s easy to argue this is that Klosterman himself throws all kinds of little clues into the mix that point in this direction; for example, there’s the fact that so many of these monologues sound like Klosterman essays in the first place, or the moment that Y. But there’s also maj whole series of smaller digs that he gets in, such as when the doctor asks why Y. Make no mistake — The Visible Man ‘s narrator is deliberately designed to be unsympathetic to the point of sometimes being despicable, with the Victorian-style story-framing very early on hinting at a grand tragedy to end it vixible and whenever our psychologist hero not coincidentally the most earnest, sincere character to ever appear in a Chuck Klosterman book complains about Y’s overuse of empty pop-culture references, his haughty intelligence combined with manic bouts of self-loathing, his habit of stilted, one-sided “conversations,” and his mocking kloaterman for anyone who doesn’t agree with his grandiose theorizing, I think it’s very safe to assume that Klosterman is not only talking about the worst parts of klostsrman at the same time, but just in general about the aspects of Late Postmodernism that had most turned it into an eye-rolling parody of itself right at the popular height of Klosterman’s early career.
Like I said, after Downtown Owl I had thought Klosterman incapable of career-redefining insights like these; so I’m glad to see that I was wrong, and now officially again look forward to his next books down the pike. Although definitely still with its problems, which is why it chuckk getting a higher score today, A Visible Man has a lot to teach us about the ways our entire culture is changing chuco early in the Obamian Age, and it comes strongly recommended to one and all.
Oct 14, Melissa rated it it was amazing Shelves: I loved this book. Most of this has to do with the fact that Klosterman’s writing strikes such a chord of perfection in my soul. I love his writing.
She didn’t look like she was thanking God for anything. It’s designed for people who want to publicize their Oh my. It’s designed for people who want to publicize their children without our consent.
I knew nothing about this book going into it, and I think that’s what made it so compelling and awesome. The idea is brilliant, the execution is spectacular. It reminds me of the movie When A Stranger Calls Back – an awful movie in many ways, but no one will ever convince me that the very beginning and the very end are not really scary.
The premise of the movie reminds me of this book, but the book itself isn’t scary. It’s no horror movie, it’s just unsettling. Read this and see if you become hyper-aware of the unconscious things you do when you’re alone – but I’ve already said too much! View all 7 comments. Oct 19, Kelly rated it it was ok. About halfway through The Visible Manone of the characters says, “If an author wants to make a fictional character seem sympathetic, the easiest way to make that happen is to place them in a humiliating scenario.
Vicky spends a lot of time in humiliating scenarios. The events of the narrative are frequently humiliating, and if she missed it the first time around, the narrative device more on that in a second requires her to reflect on these events and mine them for further embarrassment. Vicky is weak and professionally flawed and has serious issues.
I’m not saying that writing about a female klostermab who has terrible judgement and is bad at her job is inherently vidible. But, writing the book in the female character’s first person voice, and having part of your narrative device be that her first person voice is directed at a fictional intended audience basically: It was off-putting from when I first started reading the book.
Part of the problem is that I bought this book because I generally love Chuck Klosterman, so there is no way for me to not be hyper-aware that this character was written by a dude, a klostermzn who once wrote a book that was supposed to be about the sites of famous rock star deaths that turned into a memoir about women who had rejected him.
It’s awkward — it’s sort of like when people complain that movies like Juno send a pro-life message and it’s like, “Yeah, but the movie is about the adoption, so if she had an abortion, there’d be no movie. But I guess I didn’t enjoy spending so much time trapped in the head of a fictional character who is so aware that she’s been created to fail.
Nitpicking the Narrative Device: Chuck Klosterman read an excerpt from this book at the Boston Book Festival, and his rambling, manic attempts to frame, disclaim and explain the excerpt he was about to read took about as long as the amount of time he spend reading from ilosterman actual text. Which perhaps should have been indicative of the problems Klosterman had framing his narrative. It seems like he wanted to write a book where two unreliable narrators just monologued at each other vosible two hundred pages, but he couldn’t do that, so he frames it with an epistolary device, THREE different kinds of textual annotations, with a tape-recorded conversations device, etc.
This hcuck like a lot of window dressing for what is actually a pretty short story closer to a novella than a noveland the fact that Klosterman has more experience writing essays than long-form narrative shows. And this is disappointing, because one of the reasons why I was excited about The Visible Man is that when I finally read Downtown Owl it was so, so, so much better than I expected and I really incredibly loved it.
But Downtown Owl switched between three different main narrators and had a handful of guest narrator chapters, so it was much more like a series of coincidentally interconnected short stories than anything else. As a particularly nitpicked aside: Something about the bracketed text drove me crazy. It was probably my least favorite thing about the entire book. Bracketed italicized text reads to me like something that’s been formatted that way on the internet because it’s the only way to differentiate thoughts while using a shitty blog platform.