The Invisible Monster

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INVISIBLE MONSTERS
(Chuck Palahniuk)

1. INTRODUCTION

When someone told you there's an earthquake going on somewhere in the country, you smile but you don't quite know why. You giggled to yourself when a famous celebrity died with unknown reasons and you laugh hysterically when one of your close friend mysteriously commited suicide.

It's that kind sick fascination that had me read this book cover to cover in all its twisted glory.

This is a story about a disfigured beauty and her cross country journey with a beauty-queen and her boy toy. Her past, and all their weird secrets that will definitely have you looking at the drama of our lives in a new different way.

2. BODY

2a. Theme

Invisible Monsters is about the disfigured, transsexual, gay, ugly, or otherwise unpresentable "monsters" in this society, the outcasts and mutants who have made mistakes and are glad of it. It's also about the artificial life, the pristine correctness of beauty and the nuclear family, fashion, real estate, prescription drugs, and television commercials. It shares with Palahniuk's other novels the theme of self-destruction, of hitting bottom, and of rebuilding on top of whatever's left.

2b. Setting

Fancy Mansions in North America (Mostly Pacific and North West) and some parts of Canada

2c. Plot Summary

The story concerns a disfigured woman who lost her lower jaw after being shot. Her name is Shannon, but she is frequently referred to by other names given to her by Brandy Alexander, a transsexual, with whom she spends the majority of the book. The novel opens on the wedding day of Ms. Evie Cottrell, whose house is burning to the ground.

Brandy has been shot, and asks Shannon to tell her life story. Shannon remembers how she first met Brandy, and the story is told in a non-linear sequence of memories.

Shannon was the daughter of a farmer. She felt ignored because her older brother Shane got all of their parents' attention. While burning trash, a full can of hair spray had exploded in his face. Shannon was angry because she felt neglected by her parents; eventually in pursuit of attention she became a model.

The police think that Shane's accident might have been child abuse and interview him to determine whether it was. Later, Shane gets a really bad sore throat. The parents assume that it is strep throat, but when the test results come back, it turns out he has gonorrhea. The parents think that Shane is a homosexual and Shane runs away. In fact, Shane had been raped by a policeman pretending to interview him about his accident. It is later revealed that the police man who raped Shane is Shannon's future fiancé, Manus Kelley.

Shannon's best friend in modeling school is Evelyn "Evie" Cottrell, a rich Texan who lives in a giant mansion by herself. Shannon and Evie participate in an infomercial together and "perform" in front of customers in department store displays. It is about this time that Evie starts a relationship with Manus.

While driving down the highway, Shannon is shot in the face. The shot rips off her jaw. Shannon immediately drives to the hospital where she recovers. There she meets Brandy Alexander. They quickly become friends. Brandy is learning to speak like a woman and Shannon is learning to speak without a lower jaw. At this time Manus cheats on Shannon with Evie.

When Shannon is let out of the hospital, she stays at Evie's house while she goes to Cancun for a photo shoot. Then, Manus comes inside with a knife because he thinks that Evie is the person who shot Shannon. It is then that Shannon kidnaps Manus, sets Evie's house on fire, and takes Manus to Brandy Alexander, not knowing what to do.

While at Brandy Alexander's apartment (which is a hotel room), she meets the Rhea sisters. The three are drag queens and performers. At the hotel room, Shannon learns that Brandy Alexander is really her brother, Shane McFarland, and that as a woman he wants to look like her (his sister)....
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