Graham's Reviews > The Visible Man

The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman
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Jul 02, 12

Read in July, 2012

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 called goodreads.com."

The vignettes where Y___, the scientist, describes his various covert observations, are very good. I began to wonder if Klosterman began with these vignettes then later came up with the idea of an invisible observer. The glue holding these together is Y___s relationship with his counselor, which never quite packs the same punch. Although the counselor dismisses the HBO series "In Treatment" as artificial, Klosterman's dialog is not as authentic. And if you're going to introduce a therapist as a character, you should allow her to act like one. Vick admits to compromising her own professional standards from the beginning of the story, which made me wonder if she should have been a different sort of character.

But the themes of invisibility and therapy actually don't drive the story, the vignettes do, and the wry remarks from the scientist which can be about anything contemporary: Facebook, competitiveness disorders, drugs, body issues. These parts are the payoff. It didn't blow my mind but it promised to at times, and it livened up a long flight.
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