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The Visible Man: A Novel Hardcover – Oct 4 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Hardcover, Oct 4 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439184461
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439184462
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #370,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Klosterman has conjured up a novel that manages to be both wildly experimental and accessible, while making perceptive observations about privacy, human nature, and of course, the author’s forte, pop culture.”—Entertainment Weekly (A-)

"The Visible Man is a rich, fast-paced and funny novel made to entertain lovers of literary metafiction, sci-fi and thrillers.”—Dallas Morning News

“Hidden beneath The Visible Man’s kaleidoscopic structure and high-wire stunts in an irrefutable narrative logic. And like [his main character], Klosterman knows when to get out of the way.... All fiction should be so sly.” —

About the Author

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Compelling story, great writing.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 91 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A meh offering July 4 2016
By Spyder - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I may find it more enjoyable to think about the issues this book presents than in the act of reading it. It felt like a mess, and I felt the author's voice in all the motivations, dialogue and scenarios posted--and yes, these are character pieces, but all the characters at least act in the same tone of speaking. I would give it a two and a half stars just because I see a solid short story in here, and some of the images it presents are compelling.
3.0 out of 5 stars A good one-time read July 23 2016
By becky - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is well written, but id only read it once, the concept is only kind of interesting.
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 15 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book. Good author. If you're looking for your next book then here you are.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Klosterman non-fiction Jan. 11 2012
By Decrypt3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So you know what you're getting from the start: Chuck Klosterman fiction is almost indistinguishable from Chuck Klosterman non-fiction.

Klosterman's other work of fiction, Downtown Owl, had this same characteristic. In both books, most of the text takes the form of dense musings that is unmistakably in Klosterman's voice. All the characters speak in Klosterman's voice as well. Plot is, at most, a small framing device for the dense musings... until Chuck starts running out of ideas that fit into this framing device, so he conjures a major event out of nowhere and uses that as an excuse to end the book.

This is even more transparent in The Visible Man. There are two main characters. One of them is a blatant author self-insert: he speaks in Chuck Klosterman essays. The other has barely any agency -- she's essentially a stand-in for someone reading Chuck Klosterman essays. The book is written from the audience stand-in's first-person perspective, and her narration amounts to Chuck Klosterman telling you how he thinks, or wishes, other people react to his philosophy. It gets irritating after a while. For about four-fifths of the book, nothing actually happens. The Visible Man's book-ending major event fits the rest of the book better than Downtown Owl's does, but it, and the perfunctory progression leading up to it, feels like an afterthought. The book would actually be better served without this ending, I think -- it contains little or none of the musings that make the rest of the book interesting, and it's thoroughly unsatisfying. There's no reason for it to be there other than that the book is intended to be fiction.

All that said, however, a book of Chuck Klosterman non-fiction with a bit of window-dressing is still an enjoyable thing to read. Even though his writing style seems deliberately obtuse at times, it's still fun to read, and his thoughts are still interesting to hear. I just wish he'd stop pretending his non-fiction is fiction. If he's going to write something and call it a novel, it should have a plot that stands on its own.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I tend to fall in love with debut novelists... Oct. 4 2011
By Susan Tunis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Lauren Groff, Glen David Gold, Audrey Niffenegger--the list goes on and on. An author writes an exceptional first novel that rockets them to the top of my favorites list. Then commences that eternal wait for the follow-up; the wait to see if it was a fluke or what.

I LOVED Chuck Klosterman's debut novel, Downtown Owl. I laughed until I had tears in my eyes, and until he genuinely brought me to tears. Awesome. I've been awaiting his sophomore effort and hoping for more of the same. And I was fortunate--not only because I was handed an advance galley of this book by the man himself--but also because he warned me that this second novel is radically different in subject matter and tone than the first.

The Visible Man is a short novel in the form of an unpublished manuscript being submitted to Simon & Schuster, complete with cover letter and parenthetical notes to an editor. The author of the supposedly non-fiction manuscript is a therapist named Vicky Vick. The book she's written details the therapeutic and other interactions she had with the most extraordinary patient she will ever treat. Identified only as Y___, their initial sessions occur over the telephone. Y___ is very reticent to provide personal details, including the issue that has brought him to seek treatment.

Ultimately, the story comes out; supposedly, he's a scientist who designed, on his own, a suit that allows him to remain unseen by others. Effectively, he can become all but invisible. He has issues regarding "the sensation of guilt" brought about by actions he's undertaken when cloaked. Namely, he's been observing strangers alone in their homes without their knowledge. The story of both patient and therapist is relayed through her professional notes and observations, through transcripts of recorded therapy sessions, answering machine messages, and so forth.

On the one level, this is just plain, old-fashioned good story telling. You've got a psych patient who says he can become invisible. Is he delusional? What--if anything--that he says is the truth? Where is this story going to go? On another level, Mr. Klosterman, speaking in the voice of the enigmatic and troubling Y___, gets to engage in all sorts of interesting social and philosophical commentary, and to share the fascinating and bizarre stories of those he spies on:

"My earliest memories all involve staring at people and wondering who they actually were. Staring at my mom, for example, and wondering who she was and what she really felt, and how her mother-centric worldview compared to mine. I didn't know the definition of the word worldview, but I still had one. My mom was a different person around my brother and a different person around my dad and a different person on the telephone--why would I be the one exception who saw the real her?"

Or, "Our world is really backward, Victoria. It's backward. Look what society does. It takes the handful of people who know how to succeed and makes them feel terrible for being different. Everyone is supposed to be mediocre, I guess. Everyone is supposed to be dragged into the middle--either down from their success, or up from their self-imposed malfunction. These people didn't need a support group. These people needed someone to tell them they were okay."

This is not a comic novel as Downtown Owl was, but there is plenty of humor within the pages. "Men who talk about the details of their sex life are not real people. I'm not a rapper. I'm not a Jewish novelist." I don't think Mr. Klosterman knows how to be not funny. He does, however, know how to write. The benefit of having only the two principle characters in this story is that they become fully fleshed, even through this non-traditional narrative. Their relationship is a strange and intimate one.

Ultimately, this novel worked for me on many levels. It wasn't the book that I was hoping for, perhaps, but kudos to Mr. Klosterman for highlighting the diversity of his talent. Sophomore novels are so very often a let-down, but Chuck Klosterman remains near the top of my must-read list.

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