Saturday, June 11, 2005

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

(Yes, I really have been eating books this fast.)

What to say about Palahniuk? I love his books. I adore them. They're a wonderfully refreshing and gross mindfuck, and never fail to leave me thinking "Now that's just borked up."

But I don't think he can write a female narrator.

It was half-visible in Diary, a not-quite-lack of connection with the female protagonist. Invisible Monsters is an earlier book, and the not-quite-lack is very much a not-at-all connection with the protag.

It isn't simple that I know he is a male writer. I've digested plenty of books where male writers have written female leads and female writers writing male leads, and I've believed it. But not this time. Taking away the dongle and putting boobs on a person does not make them a woman.

That said, I honestly can't pinpoint exactly what it is he is doing wrong. The voice, the thoughts, the reactions, they all feel distinctly male, yet I can't say why they're not female. This vexes me.

Perhaps it is because there aren't an women in the book at all. Realising that, I couldn't help but wonder about Palahniuk's attitude towards women. Are we all men on the inside? I know that I tend to avoid being any sort of girly girl, but I am hardly masculine, something I also try to avoid being.

To me, this is the weakest of his books, and not just for the above reason. There's a philosophy in each story he tells, some breath-taking ideal that is so wrong its impossible not to find appealing. I don't think he knew entirely what that philosophy was in this case, because I'm not entirely sure what he was trying to say, with the postcards especially. Not as many lines reached out and slapped my mind., this is still a wonderfully fucked up book. So many lives twine together in a terrible knot, with terrible revelations popping up in every chapter, and just when a gobsmacking climax seems inevitable, it goes all wobbly.

Even at his worst, I love me some Palahniuk. If I could concieve a story even half as fucked up, I'd be a happy little munchkin.

Verdict: Do not use this as your introduction to Palahniuk. Rather, wait till you've read at least three others, and know whether or not you'll worship him for life. Then acquire this to fill out your collection. Remember, every author has a worst book.

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