Rene’s Letter Essay #5

Recently, I finished reading Invisible Monsters Remix, a 320-page experimental fiction book by veritable psycho Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk wrote Fight Club, which was turned into a very influential movie.
I decided to read IMR because I was intrigued by the concept. It’s a rework of Palahniuk’s 1999 novel, Invisible Monsters, with a structure inspired by Vogue Magazine. Basically, at the end of each chapter, there’s a note telling you to “Please jump to Chapter [x]”, where the story will pick up. Or not. The story is very nonlinear, so you could probably read each page in order and it would make just as much sense as in order.
In the book, a model has her face terribly disfigured in an accident that somehow involved a car as well as getting shot (and maybe a wedding, too?). The book follows her as she drives all around the U.S. and Canada, too, with her new friend, Brandy Alexander, a plastic-surgery obsessed transgender woman.
I was surprised at how Palahniuk, who usually writes comprehensible books would disregard all that and write this mess. Even within the chapters, paragraphs begin with “Jump To [x]”. The whole book is told in snapshots that could be read in any order, and this whole jumping thing seems gimmicky.
I did like how the narrator speaks with unemotional disconnect, and acknowledges her own denial of events while somehow still claiming that they never happened. It’s an honest look at somebody’s brain, and it’s a little disturbing to read.
One passage that I really liked was only one sentence long, when the main character meditated on how her accident hadn’t really changed her future, on page 32. “Besides, it happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated.”
I liked this passage because it serves both shock as well as substance. They tend to be mutually exclusive (Naked Lunch vs. The Great Gatsby), but this quote has both. The imagery of mutilation, aging, and accidents is very jarring, but if you put that aside for a second, you’ll see that she’s right. It’s nihilistic and negative, but she is right.
I give this book a 7/10. It’s weird to read and hard to read, and sometimes you wonder if the jumping is worth it. It says a lot about beauty and society, though.

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