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The Visible Man

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  7,600 Ratings  ·  699 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 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 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 19, 2011 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
Sep 24, 2011 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
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.
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
Todd Drager
Aug 12, 2012 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 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
Nov 09, 2011 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
Oct 28, 2011 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
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
Oct 07, 2014 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
Mar 24, 2015 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
Feb 05, 2016 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
Andrew Langert
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very strange book. I like Chuck Klosterman’s non-fiction work, but have heard that is fiction efforts, like this one, are of suspect quality. I had to find out for myself.
This is about a scientist who has figured out how to make himself invisible and his interactions with his therapist, Victoria Vick.
This is a relatively short novel and it takes a while to get going. When you finally realize that the scientist has created a “suit” and a “cream” that make him invisible, things start to
My first Klosterman. The story is a modern retelling of the Invisible Man (sorta kinda) that oozes with pop culture references. The 'visible' man is not really invisible, rather he can choose to be cloaked due to a garment he invented, and thus cannot be easily perceived by the naked eye. The title serves a dual purpose and can refer both to the physical state of the man as well as his personality, which the narrator, his psychologist, chooses initially not to see. I read H.G. Wells' The Invisib ...more
Jan 11, 2014 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
Jun 14, 2012 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
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but Chuck Klosterman is not a fiction writer. It felt like the character of Y was a way for Klosterman to describe his thoughts on human behavior, and the therapist character was a way to explain Y's interpretations for the reader. I like the ideas - which is why I've liked Klosterman's essays - but I don't think it translated to a great work of fiction.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2015 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 27, 2016 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
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 16, 2012 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
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2012 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
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
Ryan Schneider
Feb 17, 2012 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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General Discussion 2 48 Jun 19, 2012 08:02AM  
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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.” 23 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.” 22 likes
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