Author Biography

Chuck Pilahniuk is both a fictional novelist and a freelance journalist from the Pacific Northwest. He is best known for his novel 'Fight Club' which was made into a cult phenomenon film Directed by David Fincher starring Brad Pitt. He graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism in 1986 and made a start as an intern for National Public Radio while attending school. His novel Invisible Monsters was actually his second attempted release, but it was shot down by editors because of its graphic and disturbing content. This caused him to go on and write Fight Club before trying again with Invisible Monsters and finally getting it published. After many years of being closed about his sexuality, Chuck is now openly homosexual and this definitely influences themes in his writing. Chuck has faced many allegations of being a Nihilist, a label which he rejects, because he explores themes and ideas that many people don't believe in.



Study Questions:

1. In what ways does the main character (Shannon) break common stereotypes?
2. What is the nickname that Brandy gives Shannon?
3. How does this nickname do a good job of describing Shannon?
4. How does this book mock popular beliefs and culture?
5. What is the overall message of the story regarding society and philosophy?

Plot Overview:

Invisible Monsters is about a young woman who is reaching success in a modeling career after dropping out of college. Her life is completely flipped upside down when a rock breaks through her driver side window while she is driving on the highway. The accident leaves her lower face completely mangled. She no longer has a lower jaw, and can no longer talk or eat normally. This is an incredible polar opposite from her life before the accident, being a very materialistic model who lives every day revolved around her good looks. After the accident, she begins to see the world through a new light. She becomes invisible because no one wants to look at her or talk to her. She can basically do whatever she wants. She meets a transsexual named Brandy and they start a new life together traveling all over America stealing prescription drugs from houses for sale and selling them.

Book Review:

"This is a wild ride of a novel....No one is who he or she seems to be, and the challenge is to figure out who is morphing into whom. By the end, most readers will be both exhausted and exhilarated." George Needham, Booklist

"Palahniuk's grotesque romp aims to skewer the ruthless superficiality of the fashion world and winds up with a tale as savagely glib as what it derides....Though the absurd surprise ending may incite groans of disbelief, this book does have fun moments when campy banter tops the heroine's flat, whiny bathos." Publishers Weekly

"Palahniuk is one of the freshest, most intriguing voices to appear in a long time. He rearranges Vonnegut's sly humor, DeLillo's mordant social analysis, and Pynchon's antic surrealism (or is it R. Crumb's?) into a gleaming puzzle palace all his own." New York Newsday

"Palahniuk displays a Swiftian gift for satire, as well as a knack for crafting mesmerizing sentences that loom with stark, prickly prose and repetitive rhythms." San Francisco Examiner

Historical Context:

Invisible Monsters takes place in modern times. It is a ruthless deconstruction of our modern society and ideals. In this time period, there is the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the U.S is at war with the middle east, and our society is overall still very supersticial and obsessisive over material things.

Themes and Motifs:

  • Probably the most recurring theme in the book is the stress that society places on good looks and social statuses. Shannon goes from being a beautiful supermodel to not having a face. People will no longer look at her, she becomes invisible and can do virtually anything.
  • Another theme would be how society treats homosexual people and trans-gender people. In the story, Shannon has an older brother who is gay and ends up dying of AIDS. She resents him throughout her life for taking all the attention from her, being good or bad attention. Even after his death, her parents still talk about him constantly and this really gets under Shannon's skin.
  • The book overall really does a good job of bringing to light many parts of modern culture that most people shy away from.

Key Quotes:

  • " matter how much you think you love somebody, you'll step back when the pool of their blood edges too close." (Palahniuk 15)
  • " The truth is I was addicted to being beautiful, and that's not something you just walk away from." (Palahniuk 282)
  • " Find what you're afraid of most and go live there." (Palahniuk 294)
  • " Nobody's all-the-way dead yet, but let's just say the clock is ticking." (Palahniuk 11)

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Main Characters:

  • Shannon: Main character who goes unnamed in the book. Starts out as a very conceited supermodel but after her deforming accident starts to become more appreciative of life and doesn't want to be the center of attention anymore.
  • Brandy: A transvestite whom Shannon meets right after her accident in the hospital. She is a very confident person and quickly gains Shannon's respect by being straight forward with her and not fearing her disfigurement.
  • Seth: He is the final member of their trio of drug trafficking. He is trying to become a woman by taking large amounts of estrogen pills.