Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters Remix

Learn about Chuck Palahniuk’s creative revision of “Invisible Monsters” in this excerpt of the introduction to “Invisible Monsters Remix.”

| July 2012

  • Invisible-Monsters-Remix-Cover
    “Invisible Monsters Remix” is a revamped version of Chuck Palahniuk’s original book. In this newer version, Palahniuk breaks away from the linear format of mainstream novels.

  • Invisible-Monsters-Remix-Cover

Originally inspired as a work that would echo the Vogues he read while going to the laundromat, Chuck Palahniuk had wanted the chapters in Invisible Monsters to break the normally straight line of fiction and bounce around, as did the articles in fashion magazines. He wanted the novel “to be a little unknowable.” As a new author, he ultimately gave the book a linear structure. Published as his third novel, it was written first. In this revised edition, the reader is invited to jump throughout the book. Intertwined are new chapters: some featuring the characters in the book, others recounting events in the author’s life. As Palahniuk knows, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The following is the introduction to Invisible Monsters Remix (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012). 

This is how old I am: I loved the Sears catalogue. It kills me that I now need to explain what that was. It was an inventory of everything you ever dreamed of owning. Imagine the entire Internet printed on paper and bound along one edge—a stack of glossy paper as thick as a telephone book. Please don’t ask me to explain what a telephone book was. By now you imagine I’m wearing a bowler hat and a celluloid collar, driving my horseless carriage, lickety-split, to a torrid three-way with Laura Ingalls Wilder and Abraham Lincoln.

As opposed to you, you who’ll always stay so young and hip.

Be that as it may. This modern world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Nowadays, whatever purchase you moon over, whatever person you lust after, most likely it’s presented on a smooth glass or plastic screen. On a laptop or a television. And no matter what the technology, you’ll catch sight of your own reflection. In that electric mirror, there hovers your faint image. You’ll be superimposed over every email. Or, lurking in the glassy surface of online porn, there you are. Fewer people shut down their computers anymore, and who can blame them? The moment that monitor goes black, you’re looking at yourself, not smiling, not anything. Here’s your worst-ever passport photo enlarged to life size. Swimming behind the eBook words of Jane Austen, that slack, dead-eyed zombie face, that’s yours. That’s you.

The Sears catalogue was better. The paper reflected nothing. You could lose yourself in the Sears catalogue. The one published for the Christmas season they called the “Wish Book,” and seldom has a name been more accurate because it held hundreds of pages of toys and food and clothes, tools, and you-name-it. You could never remember it all, and every time you opened that book you found something you’d never seen before. Every time you cracked those pages you fell in love. Children and young people are always looking for an anchor, a tether, some attachment to ground them in the impossible world. The objects in the Sears catalogue baited you into adulthood. You couldn’t wait to find a job, any job, and start buying stuff. The vastness of stuff was unknowable. It was the world.