Book review

By Séamus Smyth

Scientific queries, an acute analysis of pop culture and the examination of human interaction are bundled into a neatly-confined codex in Chuck Klosterman’s latest offering.
“The Visible Man,” is incredibly addictive just like every other Klosterman project as he continues to delve into the fictional side of writing. Although this book certainly places him in prestigious company, it is not too rude to arrive fashionably late to his coming-out party as one of the finest authors around at the moment.
In case you have yet to be mystified by his abundance of intelligence on seemingly anything interesting, this is the same man that wrote “Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs,” “Eating the Dinosaur” and “Owl City”.
“The Visible Man,” is a story of a psychologist named Vicki who is all too aware of her mediocrity in her profession.  Unlike her husband and colleagues, she does not boast about her accomplishments or level of intellect.  Her day is filled with the predictable cases of troubles and anxieties until she begins sessions with a man simply known as Y____ (yes the underscores are intentional).
She immediately senses that Y___ is deeply troubled, but is captivated by his use of language. His stories that Vicki initially assumes are complete lies despite their explicit details, are unlike anything she has ever sat through.  It becomes obvious that Y___ is a genius, but possibly of a psychotic nature.
The two agree to meet on a weekly basis and Vicki becomes less interested in her other patients and basically life in general, as her thoughts begin to focus completely on the stupendous tales that Y___ serves up.
Vicki remains under the impression that Y is a compulsive smoke blower especially when he lectures her on his ability to become invisible.  Vicki gawks at the suggestion until Y___arrives at her office the following week undetected and yes, invisible.  He explains how he worked on a secret government operation in Hawaii creating a suit that reflected light in a way that fooled the human eye.
Vicki is completely exasperated by his superhuman-like ability and she voluntarily falls into the unstable hand of Y____.
From that point on, he is no longer seeking therapy from her, but instead dictates the direction of every conversation the two participate in.
A much as Vicki wishes to help Y___ seek help from someone in a better position than herself, she can’t help but be seduced by Y___’s ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
The book is undoubtedly Klosterman’s most suspenseful assignment to date and unlike his chief creation, Y__, he nails it with opaque colours.
His signature pop cultural references are sprinkled throughout the novel, but never become central to the story.  What is his central focal point is his fascination with our perception of reality.  Klosterman in a sense is Y___ because many of the points that Y___ tries to convince Vicki of are queries that he has glazed over in previous proses.
Every page feels like an unreachable climax only to be trumped by the one to follow.  The book ends with the reader contemplating a question which was exactly what Klosterman had aimed for; what do we truly define as real?
It is a question that may be unanswerable, but it’s one that is rarely asked. Klosterman forces the inquisition out of his own, complex membrane into the mind of any reader smart enough to listen to what “The Visible Man” has to say.

Seamus.Smyth@edu.sait.ca

Advertisements