“Invisible Monsters (Remix)”
by Chuck Palahniuk
Read by Chuck Palahniuk, Anna Fields and Paul Michael Garcia
Published by Blackstone Audio
Approx 7 hours.
Not only does Chuck Palahniuk deliver with yet another twisted tale, but this time around the story gets told HIS way. I first became a fan of Palahniuk, as did many others, when the movie “Fight Club” was released and with the non-linear story in that movie that I had loved before, I knew I had to investigate this author. Looking for the time to read every book I want to read turns out to be a bit tougher than I want. I have been wanting to read every single Chuck Palahnuik book and I’ve put a pretty good dent into his works. This book “Invisible Monsters” has been on my list for a while but I just never got around to it. Finally I got the opportunity to review this book when Blackstone Audio released the Remix and sent me a copy. I was anxious to get on with this book and even more so when I found out that this version is basically a “director’s cut” of the original novel. This “remix” contains new material and even adds a bit of extra adventure in reading that Chuck originally wanted in the novel.
One thing to keep in mind is that Chuck Palahniuk is the master of non-linear storytelling. If you are not familiar with this type of story, whether you are reading or listening, It seems to jump around from the past to now in the storyline and by the time you get to the end you get this big “Ah-Ha!” moment where it all makes sense. (Also you get those moments throughout the story.) I’m a fan of this type of story telling, because usually the story is not predictable.
In the introduction to this story, Palahniuk, discusses how he originally wanted to release the novel where it was nearly a never-ending story with the chance to either continue reading to the next chapter or to jump ahead or back to a chapter creating a different story with the same ending. That’s what the “Remix” is all about. Jumping to the various chapters in the book. In this new version, in hardcover form, Chuck mixes up the order of the original text and intersperses it with a series of reminiscences, commentaries and mental challenges to the reader. Some chapters are printed in reverse, so that the reader must hold them up to a mirror in order to read them. Each chapter ends with an instruction to “jump” to a new chapter. These “jump to chapter” instructions create four internal loops within the book:
Loop 1 is the original text. By following the “jump to” instructions, the reader can track the story as originally published.
Loop 2 consists of three chapters of reminiscences describing the process that led to the writing of the book.
Loop 3 consists of three chapters of commentary directed to the reader.
Loop 4 consists of four chapters providing further insights into the mind of the main character, Daisy St. Patience.
The audio version is presented in the same order as the print version. Listeners can experience the book as printed and discover new material and insights as they go, or they can follow the “jump to” instructions by creating their own “playlists.” Here is where I have my complaint. I received the audio CD version and when jumping around I would have to change the CD, for example the instructions would tell the listener to jump to disc 6 track twelve after listening to the first chapter on disc one. This would work nice If I had had the digital audio version and could make a playlist on my iPod, but driving and changing discs mad for, at times, a very frustrating process. This idea works great for the hardcover and digital audio (it comes with a pdf file giving the track number order for the various loops) but for the CD version it makes listening difficult. In fact, if the story weren’t so fascinating and original I might have stopped listening.
Other than the CD shuffle frustration, the audiobook is superb. Anna Fields does the reading of the main story loop, and her ability do the vocal gymnastics to perform each character is perfect. Without giving away some spoilers, I will say that when you find out more about each character the listener will realize that Anna offers up some hints in her vocal work that give you some more “Ah-Ha” moments. She is simply awesome in the delivery of this book.
Okay, so how do you sum up a book that starts at the end and ends in the middle without giving away spoilers? I may accidentally give some spoilers so if you don’t want to read them, I suggest you just take my word for it and pick up this super-fun transgendered road-trip novel and have fun.
That being said, I think I can sum up the gist of the story by saying the story is about a model that has lost her face and decides to take a road trip with two companions as one tries to find her sister and one is in love with another and all are damaged goods. Shannon is the model but when she runs into Brandy Alexander, her life becomes a mystery and at the same time unravels the mysteries of the three companions on their road-trip through parts of Canada and Northwest U.S.
Palahniuk mixes family pressures, homophobes, transgender persons, models and undercover cops into a satire of the beauty and fashion on a mystery road trip that will surprise you with every chapter.