Book review: INVISIBLE MONSTERS by Chuck Palahniuk

Because beauty is power the way money is power the way a loaded gun is power.

Palahniuk is best known for Fight Club, a manly book about guys beating each other up and feeling more alive because of it. Invisible Monsters is his second novel, and unlike the macho air of Fight Club, here is another world of (also ruthless and brutal) the modeling industry, plastic surgery, sex change, and getting rid of your past.

The novel's narrator and protagonist is a fashion model who was shot in the jaw. She is saved by a transgender Brandy Alexander, body full of operations and drugs, as she embarks on a new life wandering around with her ex-boyfriend and taking revenge against her former model frenemy. Here we get a lot of angst about beauty and ugliness. The narrator realizes that her face, no matter how scary and horrible now, is also a kind of power.

My favorite moral lesson from this book, though, is getting rid of the past and focusing instead on the future and all its possibilities.

The main character looks like this:


"Your perception is all fucked up. All you can talk about is trash that's already happened. You can't base your life on the past or the present. You have to tell me about your future."

"When you understand, is that what you're telling is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan, then we'll figure out who you're going to be."

"It's because we're so trapped in our culture, in the being of being human on this planet with the brains we have, and the same two arms and two legs everybody has. We're so trapped that any way we could imagine to escape would be just another part of the trap. Anything we want, we're trained to want."

"Times like this, it helps to think of yourself as a sofa or a newspaper, something made by a lot of other people but not made to last forever. It helps to know you're not any more responsible for how you look than a car is. You're a product just as much. A product of a product of a product. The people who design cars, they're products. Your parents are products. Their parents were products. Your teachers, products. The minister in your church, another product. The best way is not to fight it, just go. Don't be trying all the time to fix things. What you run from only stays with you longer. When you fight something, you only make it stronger. Whatever you're thinking, a million other folks are thinking. Whatever you do, they're doing, and none of you is responsible. All of you is a cooperative effort."

"People are all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future."

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