Austin, Texas. Therapist Victoria Vick is contacted by a cryptic, unlikable man who insists his situation is unique and unfathomable. As he slowly reveals himself, Vick becomes convinced that he suffers from a complex set of delusions: Y__, as she refers to him, claims to be a scientist who has stolen cloaking technology from an aborted government project in order to render himself nearly invisible. He says he uses this ability to observe random individuals within their daily lives, usually when they are alone and vulnerable. Unsure of his motives or honesty, Vick becomes obsessed with her patient and the disclosure of his increasingly bizarre and disturbing tales. Over time, it threatens her career, her marriage, and her own identity.
Interspersed with notes, correspondence, and transcriptions that catalog a relationship based on curiosity and fear, The Visible Man touches on all of Chuck Klosterman’s favorite themes: the consequence of culture, the influence of media, the complexity of voyeurism, and the existential contradiction of normalcy. Is this comedy, criticism, or horror? Not even Y__ seems to know for sure.
©2011 Chuck Klosterman (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
This is the first audiobook I've ever started and finished all in one day. Annabella Sciorra starts off the narrative that provides a quick back-story and set up; then you're off to the races with a book that, through most of it, is one of the funniest I've ever read, and made exponentially more amusing through the amazing performance delivered by Scott Shepherd.
Over 50% of the book (percentage is my rough estimation) is done by Shepherd as the man who can hide in plain sight. Picture Dane Cook as a Sociopath. His stories and observations on the private, hidden lives of single people, married people, roommates, and roadies is so unexpectedly accurate that I repeatedly laughed out loud in my living room while listening. I actually stopped halfway through just to send a copy of the audiobook to my best friend.
So why not 5 stars? The serious, disturbing side of the book, while not bad, can't hold up to the quality and caliber of the funny side. Any time they pulled away from the hysterical monologues delivered during the sessions, it was a big let down, and a real change in quality.
Don't get me wrong; the serious aspect was...ok; it just couldn't live up to the insane ramblings that kept me in stitches. I also want to stress that Annabella Sciorra is AMAZING in her delivery. Still, the end of the book had you forgetting just how amazing the middle 80% of the story was.
If you like dry dark humor that leans towards making fun of the most mundane aspects of our lives (think Seinfeld), as perceived by an egomaniacal - but very intelligent - jerk, GET THIS BOOK. Just expect to be a little wistful at the end that the funny parts ever had to end.
Unlike other reviewers, any intended humor in this work largely eluded me. To me the most appropriate adjectives describing this book would include dark, sad and frightening. What is disturbing about "Y," the "visible" (really invisible) man of the title, is the same thing that is disturbing in the idea of a ghost--that is, the idea of an intelligent, invisible presence following, watching and at times interacting with us in our most private moments. What makes the character of Y additionally loathsome is his sanctimonious arrogance in assuming his right to act as he does.
I confess that I am genuinely puzzled as to what others found funny in this book. I can only imagine it consists of the sections detailing the private behavior of those Y chooses to watch in the seclusion of their homes. I found these sections more sad than amusing since they show human beings at their most vulnerable--letting down their guards and casting off the persona they assume for the benefit of the rest of the world. Y's conduct in these circumstances is nothing short of despicable.
There are interesting ideas suggested in this book but ultimately none of them are really developed satisfactorily. Neither of the 2 main characters are at all likable,which makes understanding just what makes them tick that much more difficult. I'm giving this book three stars overall because it is well-written and did hold my interest, but I admit that it left me feeling slightly nauseated--perhaps what the author intended but not really my cup of tea.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I still don't know what to think about this book. I think there is a psychological/social message in here, but I didn't get it. Perhaps one has to understand the nature of therapy to understand what either of the main characters were intending to do.
Regardless, however, it was an original way to showcase a bunch of vignettes about various characters' lives without having to create a backstory or a point for their presence in the novel - i.e. Y could tell the story of any conceivable character (someone with an eating disorder, someone slightly nuts, someone with philosophical issues, etc) by just popping us into and out of a single scene - or set of scenes - as he detailed how he watched them while invisible.
That makes it sound like the book is choppy... it is not... well, perhaps the way Vick prefaces each section as a cover letter to an editor is a bit choppy... but the way the stories are told flow relatively normally (it helps that each story Y tells has no relation to the next story he tells, so you are not looking for the connection).
What I didn't like, and didn't understand, is the romantic component of the novel (and I use the term romantic very loosely). I am not sure if this is because I am not familiar with (and am not sure I accept) the concept of transference of emotion to one's therapist (and, anyway, this doesn't explain *her* attraction to Y).
Actually, now that I think more about it, maybe the relationship was doomed to turn into what it turned into just by the very nature of Y being the way he was. I think the ending was quite fitting, and I can't think how it could have been better ended... after all, Y is a bad man, regardless of how much protesting he does.
The narration is very good. There is no sex or gore or foul language. I didn't find any part of the story to be humorous - Y was a bit too sociopathic to be funny.
The most interesting thing about this work is not the "invisible man" trope at all, it's the sociological bent - the sardonic and cynical but painfully accurate descriptions of everyday life that our antagonist tells his therapist about the people he's watched. There are some beautiful misanthropic hooks to the character and his observations of us when we are, we think, alone.
The story grabbed me from the first moment and held me through the end. The narration was perfect for the characters. It isn't the type of book I will not likely spend a moment thinking about now that it is finished but it was very entertaining and past my commuter hours pleasantly. That is all I expect of a good audiobook to make it worth the credit.
Of the many books I have now listened to through Audible, I have to say, this one held my attention the most. Primarily because the writing was excellent! I was constantly amazed at the interesting observations made by "Y" about life and people. I always appreciate it when thoughts get me to thinking and this book certainly did that. The writing was unabashedly articulate and I always appreciate that ability.
The only reason for the four stars was I reserve five for the absolute best--where I have no reservations--and there were two.
The primary one was the reader for "Y." The voice was just too suave and "together" to be totally acceptable as the character of "Y." A voice more reedy or tense may have been a better choice. Please don't get me wrong.........the voice was excellent! Although more for a more sane individual.
Also, the character of "Vic" was quite upsetting. I know this was just a novel but even the thought that a professional counselor would/could get herself involved with a character such as "Y" was uncomfortable.......just my aside to the story......then again, maybe "uncomfortableness" is life......
Thanks for an excellent read!
Yes. The style is engaging and the performance is perfect.
Both characters were drawn with care.
Yes, but probably only certain friends. Klosterman is entertaining but he uses the book for long diatribes on philosophy, psychology, and sociology that some readers may find pretentious, or at the very worst, boring. However, I think there are some insightful, thought-provoking discussions that bubble up on occasion that make you stop and think.
Having read "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" and being thoroughly entertained cover to cover, this title piqued my interest as I wanted to see how Klosterman would fare in the fiction arena. This book captures his same penchant for social and cultural commentary, wrapped in a story, with some clever plot devices.
This book was the first I've heard with two narrators. It really brought the back-and-forth between Vicky and Y to life as they are polar opposites in the beginning (or at least portrayed as such).
At first no, but near the end as the tension builds and you are unsure of Y's next move, the story is hard to put down.
The reading of Victoria threw me off. She seemed to decide that her character would take pensive pauses while speaking. This happened throughout the entire book. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there was a pause in every sentence she spoke. She even paused to collect her thoughts when reading. She paused as if... trying to think of... the right word... even when the word was... common.
Overall, the book was interesting. I enjoy Klosterman's social commentary. The story was interesting enough, even though it was forced. I do not enjoy stories in which the characters have no redeeming qualities. That is why I always bail on the anti-hero television shows that are popular today. Y is an arrogant loser who uses his intelligence to justify completely unacceptable behavior. Victoria is a door mat who does not use her intelligence for any purpose. Everybody is worse off than when the story started. The end.
There was the potential for some statement to be made about surveillance by the NSA and the need for a right to privacy, but if it was intended at all, the author left it as just an inference. I kept feeling like the story would lead me somewhere, but it never did.
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