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The Visible Man

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,495 Ratings  ·  643 Reviews
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 h
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2011)
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Oct 17, 2011 RandomAnthony rated it it was ok
Chuck Klosterman's Visible Man sneaked up on me. When was this novel released? I read everything Klosterman writes but, honestly, this is probably his weakest work yet. I don't think Visible Man suffers from lack of effort. But Klosterman trying to be a “real” novelist, if you will, is Klosterman trying not to be Klosterman. And Klosterman can't help but be Klosterman.

What do I mean? The book's narrator is a female psychologist but, at best, the character sounds like Chuck Klosterman in drag. I
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So yes, after reading the abysmal Downtown Owl a few years ago, I infamously declared here that I would never read a Chuck Klosterman book again; and indeed, I would've never read this latest of his, The Visible Man, if it had not randomly shown up on the "New Releases" shelf of my neighborhood library on
Oct 14, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ah-deadly
Oh my. I loved this book. Most of this has to do with the fact that Klosterman's writing strikes such a chord of perfection in my soul. I love his writing.
"He would see the raw ingredients for whatever recipe you use to create the public version of yourself."
"I saw this serious forty-something woman there, all by herself on a Friday afternoon. She didn't look like she was thanking God for anything."
"This is why Facebook caught on with adults: It's designed for people who want to publicize their
Oct 22, 2011 Kelly rated it it was ok
The Problem With External Internalized Misogyny: About halfway through The Visible Man, one of the characters says, "If an author wants to make a fictional character seem sympathetic, the easiest way to make that happen is to place them in a humiliating scenario." At this point in the book, I was already thoroughly skeeved by the portrayal of Vicky (the female protagonist) so maybe I was primed to find this line meta-gross, but ... yeah. Vicky spends a lot of time in humiliating scenarios. The e ...more
Oh, Klosterman. You are one of the few writers today who can be educational, funny, endearing, intelligent, and sentimental. And all at the same time. I have read his nonfictional pieces on pop culture, of course. And this novel is approached with the same wit, candor, and humor that has become his style.

The novel is set in Austin, Texas, with a few nice references, albeit not entirely accurate in the details, including The Texas State Capitol, Lavaca Street, BookPeople, Waterloo Records, etc.
Sep 24, 2011 christa rated it liked it
It’s obvious where Chuck Klosterman came up with the premise for his to-be released novel “The Visible Man.” Old Red Beard’s 2009 book of essays “Eating the Dinosaur” includes a chapter about watching through the window a twentysomething woman who lived in an efficiency apartment similar to his own in Fargo. Making dinner, working out on a NordicTrack, cooking an elaborate dinner, then fighting with her boyfriend.

Did she watch him, too? He suspects she did. Maybe even watched him barf one night
It's rarer now that I finish a book in what amounts to one sitting than it was when I was a kid, so when a book captures my attention so completely that I put aside all distractions to finish it, I know there's something unique about its style and substance. Chuck Klosterman is one of those writers whose work captivates me directly and significantly, and his latest novel is no different. The Visible Man is a psychologically-oriented science-fiction story, but it's as much about giving Klosterman ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it
Man, I really want to give this book five stars. I really do. Even as I write this, I'm trying to figure out exactly what it was about the book that is keeping me from throwing that last star up there. Those descriptions, however, have got me hung up because, in fact, it did really like it, but I can't in good faith say that I loved it.

Let's start with the good.

1) It's Chuck Klosterman. I've read all his books, nonfiction and fiction alike. I pretty much love his writing.
2) He has finally branc
Todd Drager
Aug 12, 2012 Todd Drager rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book. I've enjoyed other work by Klosterman and enjoy his perspective, but ultimately this novel just felt cluttered and unfinished. It felt a little like coffee house filler, a cluster of topics that are interesting to discuss but ultimately dont make for a very good composed narrative. The book is told from the perspective of Victoria Vick, a therapist. The book in itself is supposedly her package of information she put together for her publicist in order to turn her adve ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Shane rated it really liked it
An intriguing premise of an invisible man who seeks out the help of a therapist as a witness to his lonely life, rich only with its naked observations of others, similar to a writer’s life in a sense.

Told in a series of e-mails, recorded phone conversations, letters to her publisher, and transcripts of their therapy sessions, the therapist, Victoria, constructs the bizarre case of her patient known only as Y___. While this narrative device is inventive and probes deep into the patient’s characte
Oct 08, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Unique. Disturbing. Funny. This book scared more than I think was intended. I loved the formatting-a rough draft to a book of psychological non-fiction with notes from the author, Vicky. The characters were thoroughly messed up and unlikable but have that special charm of being f***ing interesting! I will definitely have to pick up more of Chuck Klosterman's work. (Oh, one of my favorite aspects of Klosterman's writing is how he effortlessly mixes in pop culture without coming off sardonic or aw ...more
I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would, and it also annoyed me a lot more than I hoped it wouldn't.
The "Visible Man" character is the main annoyance. If you've ever encountered one of those people that skipped several grades of school and has multiple degrees, who prides themselves on their ability to see through other people's emotions, and who knows the second they walk into a room that they are the smartest person there, then you unfortunately understand what I'm talk
Nov 09, 2011 Alec rated it really liked it
As a kid, I feel like it was protocol to have a stock answer chambered just in case someone (possibly a genie with Robin Williams' voice) asked you what your three wishes would be. Setting aside the inane "I'd wish for a million wishes!" response that always generated playground controversy, I vividly recall my official list of three wishes. It went as follows:

1. The ability to fly
2. The ability to turn invisible on command
3. The ability to eat leaves (and be nourished by them, I guess?)

In retro
Scott Rhee
I have thoroughly enjoyed Chuck Klosterman's cleverly-written and intellectual articles and essays about Pop Culture that he has written for publications as varied as GQ, Esquire, and The Washington Post on topics as varied as movies, sports, religion, politics, 80s glam metal, and breakfast cereal (usually in that precise order of ascending importance), but I was unsure whether he had the wherewithal to attempt a full-length novel. He does. It is evident in his second novel, "The Visible Man", ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it
This novel concerns a therapist, Victoria Vick, who becomes overly involved with an unusual patient, Y___,someone who has developed a suit that makes him essentially invisible to others. He spends his time following people into their homes and observing them while they are alone. These observations progress from simple surveillance to intervening in their lives leading to dire consequences.
Told through Y___’s narrative along with the therapist’s notes, correspondence and transcriptions which do
Jun 10, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it
I liked listening to this guy talk. He's such a mix of intelligence and rationalizations and blindness. The book really has a nice rhythm.

Having said that, Vic is the WORST THERAPIST EVER. And also a dumb human being. As I was reading it, I could see how the idea formed in Klosterman's mind: he wanted to tell the story of this guy, filter it through a slightly more objective (or, let's say different) perspective, and see what happened. So he needed a likely scenario for this guy to tell his stor
Feb 07, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it
Like the singer who decides to record a solo album or the marquee actor who wants to direct a vanity project, it always makes me a little nervous when an author primarily known for one genre decides to try something new. This is doubly true of Chuck Klosterman, a fellow who belongs to that little coterie of unlucky authors and journalists with whom I identify to a probably unhealthy degree (see also: Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, Rob Sheffield). He’s known primarily for penning pop culture-obse ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Mister rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
I've been trying to sleep but unable to do so. So I might as well do this.

The Visible Man was given to me by my dear friend Melanie as a Christmas gift (she's such a sweetheart). I strongly recommend checking her out as she doles out some great reviews herself and, as of late, has been getting a lot of ARCs. She's the best .

I'm not sure where to begin talking about this book aside from relating it to my other experiences with Klosterman. Previously, I had read two other works by the author. The
Oct 03, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
I've heard from knowledgable sources that Klosterman is a pain, but, dammit, I love most things he writes, and this was no different.

Victoria Vick is a therapist (and not necessarily a very good one, in my opinion) with a most unusual client.....he's used his government work to allow him to be (with apologies to his repeated insistence that this word not be used) invisible. Trust me, this is much easier to swallow that it sounds like it might be - it always bothers me in stories like these wher
Jan 11, 2014 Alan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: All the lonely people
Recommended to Alan by: Coincidence; previous work
{...}I know I'll never get proper credit for the things I've done and the truths I've learned. We both know I won't. People want Santa Claus, and I'm not Santa Claus. I'm more like the guy who invented his magic fucking sleigh. I'm the guy who does impossible things that need to be done, so that all the normal people can go back to sleep.
—Y__, p. 148

Y__ is... well, he's not really that guy, despite what he thinks, but he has done something that seems impossible: he's invented a suit that makes h
May 29, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it
We all have a fixed perspective on how the world looks, and that perspective generates itself. We mentally change what we see to fit our unconscious perception of order.

4.5 Stars.

First off, I gotta say thanks to my friend Faith for recommending this book to me! It's not likely something I would have stumbled across on my own, which is why I love GR and seeing what my friends are reading/recommending.

For me, the books that make you think the most about yourself, those around you, and our perce
Nov 15, 2015 Angel rated it it was amazing
As a future social worker and a current social work intern, I really enjoy the concept of a therapeutic relationship between two protagonists. The idea of an invisible man is not entirely paranormal or fantastical; it is intensely symbolic of what it's like to suffer from mental illness as it is often labeled as the invisible disease. The interactions are often unusual and the dialogue is simultaneously dark and comical. Y__ is a fascinating character and when he is talking to his therapist, I f ...more
Dec 23, 2011 Braxton rated it really liked it
As a big fan of Klosterman's nonfiction work and someone who didn't really like his first novel "Downtown Owl" I was cautiously optimistic going into this book. In my opinion, it was a huge step up in quality from his previous novel.

One of the biggest problems I had had with "Downtown Owl" was that whoever was narrating or talking,their voice came off sounding like Klosterman. In this book, the characters have very unique voices, and the voice of the author comes through very little.

I was actual
Jun 13, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
I was thrilled to win a copy of this book as a part of a GoodReads First Read giveaway. I'd seen and very nearly coveted this book when spotted on a shelf in a local bookstore, but financial hardship led to its purchase being impractical.

Yesterday, I decided to start on this book, read a little bit, and then go to bed. Its format, primarily fictitious transcripts from the fictional therapist who was presenting the manuscript, is broken up into nice little chunks which would make for good light
J.A. Carter-Winward
Nov 09, 2015 J.A. Carter-Winward rated it really liked it
Shelves: guilty-pleasure
This book thrives on tension and is one of the most compelling reads I've encountered in a long time. The unconventional way the story is told* makes it feel as though you're right there, with the therapist in each session, being drawn inexplicably into the life of her strange and terrifying client. I had trouble seeing what her compulsion was with him, but I didn't need to suspend disbelief to feel that SHE was drawn hook, line and sinker into this man's world. I would have given it 5 stars, bu ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
This is the first novel I've read by Klosterman, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect here. Initially, the premise of the book seemed a bit cheesy and the description of one of the primary characters, "Y___" seemed a bit too farfetched and silly, in regards to the cloaking abilities that he possesses. However, after about ten or fifteen pages, I was hooked.

The subject of this novel, simply called "Y___" by the slightly naive, empathetic therapist Victoria Vick, whose perspective the book is
Mar 02, 2013 Ariel rated it it was amazing
This is going to be one of those books that I require to shove in the faces of other people. Not desire, require.

It was thrilling without being the sort of thrilling where you're reading it and you're thinking, "this is a thriller novel, I'm supposed to feel this way". I didn't expect thrill when I started reading this book - light interest, of course. Honestly, what are you supposed to feel with this novel? Everything. Plenty of everything. Heaps of it.

Personally, I like how the novel didn't d
Jan 16, 2012 Kira rated it it was amazing
Considering the three Klosterman camps (love, hate, thought Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs was OK), it goes without saying that this book isn’t for everyone. The Loves will love it, the Hates will hate it and the Fair-Weather Fans could probably go either way. If you’re a Klosterman virgin though, maybe don’t start here. Start with Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, or Eating the Dinosaur. Read some Esquire essays. Bone up on your TV first.

But for the Klosterman adherents—and I speak only to you now, my fr
Jun 14, 2012 Cassie-la rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads

Chuck Klosterman is well known for his hysterical essays on popular culture that feature Back to the Future jokes and comparing apples and wolverines to one another. Those are just two examples off the top of my head. I also recall an amazing essay on “Saved by the Bell”, and a tale of how Bono is a crazy person. True story.

This fiction novel (the second from Klosterman) is quintessential, Chuck, with his typical references to pop cultur
Ryan Schneider
Feb 17, 2012 Ryan Schneider rated it really liked it
This was my first Klosterman novel. I really enjoyed it. Recommend it. It has a lot to say, and is done in a fascinating plot. I immediately went back to the library to get his other books, of which only DOWNTOWN OWL is available. Reading it now.

For THE VISIBLE MAN, I continued my strategy of NOT reading the jacket copy prior to beginning the novel itself. I am VERY glad I did. I find that reading the jacket copy BEFORE reading the novel creates an expectation in one's mind, and throughout the r
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Charles John "Chuck" Klosterman is an American pop-culture journalist, critic, humorist, and essayist. He was raised on a farm near Wyndmere, North Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994. After college he was a journalist in Fargo, North Dakota and later an arts critic for the Akron Beacon Journal in Akron, Ohio, before moving to New York City in 2002.

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“You want to know what I really learned? I learned that people don’t consider time alone as part of their life. Being alone is just a stretch of isolation they want to escape from. I saw a lot of wine-drinking, a lot of compulsive drug use, a lot of sleeping with the television on. It was less festive than I anticipated. My view had always been that I was my most alive when I was totally alone, because that was the only time I could live without fear of how my actions were being scrutinized and interpreted. What I came to realize is that people need their actions to be scrutinized and interpreted in order to feel like what they’re doing matters. Singular, solitary moments are like television pilots that never get aired. They don’t count. This, I think, explains the fundamental urge to get married and have kids[…]. We’re self-conditioned to require an audience, even if we’re not doing anything valuable or interesting. I’m sure this started in the 1970s. I know it did. I think Americans started raising offspring with this implicit notion that they had to tell their children, “You’re amazing, you can do anything you want, you’re a special person.” [...] But—when you really think about it—that emotional support only applies to the experience of living in public. We don’t have ways to quantify ideas like “amazing” or “successful” or “lovable” without the feedback of an audience. Nobody sits by himself in an empty room and thinks, “I’m amazing.” It’s impossible to imagine how that would work. But being “amazing” is supposed to be what life is about. As a result, the windows of time people spend by themselves become these meaningless experiences that don’t really count. It’s filler.” 15 likes
“-- and it occurred to me that people who don't talk about themselves are limiting their own potential. They think they're guarding themselves for some sort of abstract dange, but they're actually allowing other people to decide who they are and what they're like.” 14 likes
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