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Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    101
  • 4 Stars
    85
  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    9

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    122
  • 4 Stars
    62
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    88
  • 4 Stars
    73
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    8
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 11-07-11

Hillarious & Disturbing In (almost) Equal Measure

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.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Diane
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 04-29-13

Are You Being Watched?

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An engaging - and very disturbing - story...

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Phillip
  • Laramie, WY, United States
  • 06-06-14

Reasonably Good For Klosterman Fans

What did you like best about The Visible Man? What did you like least?

The best thing about The Visible Man is Annabella Sciorra's narration of Victoria. Sciorra really holds this audiobook together. The character of Victoria is also better written than the character of Y__, so that helped as well. The four-star rating for "Performance" on this audiobook is for Sciorra's reading and not for Scott Shepherd, who I felt really played Y__ as way too angry; also, I do understand that Y__ is an angry character, but I think Shepherd could have used some restraint. My least favorite thing about The Visible Man is Klosterman's inability to remove himself from the story. I am a Klosterman fan, and I do enjoy his writing style quite a bit, so it is always nice to hear his dialogue, even when it is a flawed story, and The Visible Man is definitely flawed. There are several problems with this book, including character development, story structure, meandering monologues, etc. I think the problem Klosterman is going to have as he continues to write fiction, is removing his all too obvious voice and perspectives from the characters he creates; he manages this much better in his first novel, Downtown Owl, which is one of my favorite pieces of writing by him. In The Visible Man, Klosterman's unique attitude toward pop culture, existentialism, and world views is shoved into the mouths of these characters without a lot of finesse. If the listener is already familiar with other Klosterman works, than they will find these Klosterisms easily locatable in the story.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would have developed the character Y__ differently to demonstrate more sensitivity and empathy. Klosterman piles a lot of issues onto Y__'s character; Y__ is a genius, engineer, sociopath, drug addict, voyeur, burglar, etc., etc., etc. It is too much for one character in this particular story.

Which scene was your favorite?

When Victoria is delivering Y__'s joke about the clown.

Any additional comments?

To be honest, this book just felt rushed, and seemed like it needed for time for development. There is a great story in The Visible Man, but it just takes too many strange, unfulfilling twists and turns. The first quarter of the story is much more measured, thoughtful, and seemingly worked out than the rest of it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Timeless Concept, Modern Telling

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • C. Byrnes
  • Kissimmee, FL United States
  • 12-01-12

Interesting Entertaining Listen

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Extremely articulate and thoughtful

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Different and Deep

Would you listen to The Visible Man again? Why?

Yes. The style is engaging and the performance is perfect.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Both characters were drawn with care.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Thought-provoking Work

What made the experience of listening to The Visible Man the most enjoyable?

The narrators were great and really brought the characters to life. I know some of the other reviewers commented on the fact that the narrator who played Y seemed more sane and personable than their perception of Y as a sociopath but I thought that was precisely the purpose of such a selection. Since the voice of Y was sane and alluring it enticed me to interpret Y as an alluring character the way theoretically Victoria viewed him.The pop culture philosophy was also interesting and thought-provoking. I had the distinct desire to talk to someone else about the thoughts expressed in this book and my views on them which is always a good thing in a book. Some of his social commentaries were a bit short but I believe that if they had been extended they would likely fall into repetition (the discussion about money and happiness is an example of this)

Who was your favorite character and why?

Unlike I believe some other readers, I was particularly drawn to the character of Y. I could understand and sympathize with Victoria's unfortunate lack of boundaries with Y. This might however be because I tend to like portrayals of brilliant characters and their thought process (despite or perhaps because of the often arrogant and dysfunctional way they are portrayed in most forms of media). I thought that Y had both charisma and definite issues and had the distinct feeling that many people would consider him psychopathic although I would not.

Any additional comments?

Y described really odd and likely clinically disturbed people for the majority of his descriptions of his home observations. I thought Chuck's choice to do this was both interesting and unfortunate. Examining disturbed people gave me as a reader an opportunity to analyze what I would think about these people and gave me the feeling that it was entirely possible that most single adults were secretly disturbed in their most private moments. However, it also nagged me because from my own experience it didn't feel true (note that my only experience with being with someone when they are alone is with myself). As such, I was taken out of the story several times and had to remind myself that it was possible the characters picked these stories out of thousands because they were the most interesting and that Chuck simply could not write about at length about the truly boring aspects of the private lives of sane non-disturbed people (which might constitute almost exclusively consumption of media). It was just unfortunate because one of the charms of the book was the realization that theoretically it was possible thought incredibly unlikely that any of us could be watched when we believe we are alone and the use of unrelatable subjects for Y's observations served to distance ourselves from the possibility of being observed.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • CJ
  • 12-26-17

visibly enjoyable

I have read 3 of Klosterman's nonfiction books and Downtown Owl. The Visible Man takes all of the things that are great about his nonfiction and combines them with a captivating story that improves upon the writing in his last novel. As Vicky mentions near the end of the book, invisibility has been used many times in fiction and media before, so it's a relief to see that Klosterman's book doesn't feel like it is rehashing unnecessarily. one of the things I love most about the book is the enjoyable mixture of sci-fi and cultural commentary. Reading Y (the invisible - or as he would put it "cloaked" - therapy patient) passively relay his voyeuristic adventures, detailing both the minutiae of people's lives while at the same time mentioning the difficulties of staying silent while invisible, is great stuff. The "Valerie" story is one of my favorites and starts to show that Y is not as passive and 'scientific' as he would have us believe. To me, the disappointment comes at the book's end, where there doesn't seem to be an adequate conclusion to either the cultural or scifi themes. The book's last act moves into typical thriller territory which wasn't satisfying with respect to the rest of the book. The Visible Man is around 250 pages and I would have been delighted to read/hear 50 more that would have given a more fulfilling, rich conclusion. As for the performances, the two voice actors do their jobs well and it's one of the better performances I have heard in the past year.