The Visible Man
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The Visible Man

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  4,780 ratings  ·  547 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 crypti...more
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2011)
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RandomAnthony
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...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. 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...more
Melissa
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...more
christa
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...more
Todd Drager
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
Kelly
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
Derek
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
Alec
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...more
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
Alan
Jan 11, 2014 Alan rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
J.A. Carter-Winward
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
Braxton
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...more
Bill
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...more
Sara
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...more
Kira
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...more
Cassie-la
REVIEW ALSO ON: http://bibliomantics.com/2011/10/21/i......

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...more
Ryan Schneider
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...more
b
The Visible Man was such an interesting concept by an author that had previously wrote such great collections of pop culture articles that left complex questions in the mind long after reading. This was why I was so heavily disappointed when reading the book as I had high expectations for Klosterman's fictional novel. I felt like throughout the book he was trying to expand on an a really great idea but it just wasn't well thought out to drag it along for the entirety of a novel.
The story follow...more
mark
There is something askew about The Visible Man – the crossroads of the characters, the story, and the author. The Visible Man comes very close to unmasking that which it is to be human but, I think, because of the Klosterman’s own cynicism and youth (He’s 40) the mystery is allowed to escape and live on. Klosterman said in a lecture recently (February 28, 2012), “You are only truly yourself when you are alone,” which is the big idea he explores in this novel. He does that via discourse between a...more
Graham
I enjoyed this darkly humorous sci-fi novella where a drug-addled scientist uses an advanced cloaking suit in order to camp out in people's homes and observe them without their knowledge. The story is set in Austin and mentions familiar landmarks: UT, the Radisson on Cesar Chavez, BookPeople. This added to the eeriness for me. One of the scientist's subjects, named Bruce, is too close for comfort actually. "He never reads books" says the scientist, "but he put a lot of effort into a website call...more
Gabriel
Chuck Klosterman has shown himself - through his essays - to be a great mind when it comes to media. This is my first of his fiction, though, and I came to it wondering if he could pull it off.

He did, in spades.

Having just spent time reading About Writing by Samuel R. Delany, I caught how the strength of this book came in the narrative structure. Not only does it work as a first person narrative, but the explanation of why it is in first person is great. Not only that, but the underlying reliabi...more
Amy
Couldn't get into this. I picked it up b/c I was curious about the format--emails, transcribed voice mails, psychologist's notes. That format didn't work for me. Felt like I was reading for work, sifting through a jumbled case file, with the burden on me to tease a story out of a bunch of documents that a file clerk put in chron order. It actually felt a lot like reading an assignment in law school, like somewhere at the end would be some issue-spotting questions to test my knowledge of tort law...more
Po Po
This is my favorite Klosterman book so far. Do we ever really get to know other people? Even if you've been married for over 50 years, do you really know your spouse? The only person you can truly know is yourself, and even "knowing yourself" is fairly uncertain and difficult. When you believe you are being observed, your guard is up, and your behavior becomes a performance. Only when you think you are unobserved, do you really become who you are, yet your own motives and behavior can still be c...more
Mike Lewis
I generally love everything Klosterman writes but I think he's non-fiction stuff is way better than his fiction. He also created a cool game called "Hypertheticals" that pose really great but ridiculous questions in a "would you rather" style. This book reads like one giant Hyperthetical. The question would be "if you were invisible and just wanted to explore other people's lives in a non-sexual way, what problems would you have?" He then spends 250 pages talking about those problems.

The scenar...more
Carla
This book has some interesting ideas about 'the self' and how we operate within modern society when so much of ourselves are on display to teh world at large. When are we most "ourselves"? Klosterman's wit is evident in this novel but the satirical element that I expected to be prevleant was missing. Though there were a few laughs at some of the more ridiculous scenarios described by the protagonist, but overall I found the lead character a truly risible human being. Nor did I find anything to s...more
Jamie
I greatly enjoyed the Visible Man, although I had never read any of Chuck Klosterman's works previously.
Although I don't agree with all of the decisions of the narrator throughout the book, I really enjoyed Y___ as a character. The whole time I was reading I couldn't shake the feeling that he reminded me of Hannibal Lector, and I was unable to properly explain why. Y____ is interesting, you could probably look deep into his personality to see what's really hidden under the personas that he pres...more
Casey
Much like the therapist character in this novel, Visible Man left me with a significant amount of cognitive dissonance. I am torn between its brilliant commentary (and metacommentary) on the nature of self and evolving postmodernity and its simultaneous misogyny.

Although Klosterman's character Y (a close insert for K himself) claims he is "not a Jewish" novelist, he seems to be maniacally channeling the ego of Phillip Roth. At one point Y points out that "if an author wants to make a fictional c...more
Jeff Mikules
The Visible Man, in which a therapist (Victoria) recounts her sessions with a man referred to as Y - who claims to be able to become cloaked (invisible), and uses this ability to observe people when they are alone - was an interesting read for me. I found the premise engaging, the structure of the novel interesting, and the voice of the therapist Victoria very plausible; although, much of the novel uses Y's recitation as he participates in, or more accurately controls, the therapy sessions.
Th...more
Tim Weakley
This book was my first exposure to Kloseterman. He had been suggested to me by a few people and I really wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed the style of writing. The story was told as therapists notes for the most part. It had good flow.
The psychological aspect of the work was interesting. I enjoyed the switching of roles between the patient and the therapist, even if I thought the therapist had too many issues of her own!
Jill
I completely ignored the advice of a couple of my bookish friends when I picked up The Visible Man. Both suggested Chuck Klosterman to me, but both told me to start with his well-known nonfiction that dissects modern culture. Both warned to read his novels only after I read his other stuff.
What can I say? I'm stubborn by nature, and sometimes I'll just do something precisely because someone told me not to do it. Fuck it. The Visible Man jumped out at me recently at a used bookstore, so I picked...more
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General Discussion 2 40 Jun 19, 2012 08:02AM  
  • A Snowball in Hell
  • The Room
  • The Coma
  • Skagboys
  • Clown Girl
  • The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
  • Slaves of New York
  • Dead Babies
  • Guts
  • The Flying Troutmans
  • Stonemouth
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • Kingdom Come
  • Leaving Las Vegas
  • Apathy and Other Small Victories
  • Kiss Me, Judas
  • The Fuck Up
  • The Contortionist's Handbook
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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.

More about Chuck Klosterman...
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas Eating the Dinosaur Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota

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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.” 10 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.” 8 likes
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