New York Times bestselling author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and Downtown Owl, “the Ethicist” of the New York Times Magazine, Chuck Klosterman returns to fiction with his second novel—an imaginative page-turner about a therapist and her unusual patient, a man who can render himself invisible.
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: Y__, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible. 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.
Interspersed with notes, correspondence, and transcriptions that catalog a relationship based on curiosity and fear, The Visible Man touches on all of Chuck Klosterman’s favorite themes—the consequence of culture, the influence of media, the complexity of voyeurism, and the existential contradiction of normalcy. Is this comedy, criticism, or horror? Not even Y__ seems to know for sure.
Klosterman's (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) deadpan humor is on full display in this tour de force exploration of intimacy and voyeurism. Austin-based therapist Victoria Vick takes on new client "Y____," as she calls him, a brilliant, cruel, troubled, and cagy man who refuses to see her in person or explain why he wants help. Y____ claims to be a rogue government scientist in possession of a stolen body suit and a light-trapping skin cream that render him ostensibly invisible. Sneaking into people's homes is merely "a scientific endeavor," he insists. Victoria is skeptical of Y____, but his creepy, riveting monologues about his observations draw her under his spell. Y____'s invasions are marvelously detailed; aware of the "dim, undefined" shadow cast by his secret suit, he avoids "walking in front of south facing windows during the afternoon." Klosterman layers on the formal virtuosity by presenting his novel as an early draft of a book about Y____ that Victoria has assembled from notes, voice mails, and session transcripts. Although the narrative resolution lacks the inventiveness Klosterman brings to the form (Y____'s motives are disappointingly conventional), this novel is still strikingly original, a vibrant mix of thriller, sci-fi, and literary fiction genres.
A very interesting story. I don't usually read fiction but I was pulled into this one.
About halfway into this book I remembered why I love Chuck. He makes you think. Am I the same person when nobody is around? When I am alone do I act how I want to really be? While the story gets a bit standard the thoughts and reactions are very real. You can see how klosterman has built from Downtown Owl and continued to develop his take on society.
Somewhat unsatisfying conclusion, but nonetheless fascinating material. I highly suggest it.