About a month ago, I read the book The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman. Recently, Klosterman became the ethicist at the New York Times. I devoured this book. I have never read anything by Klosterman (outside of the random magazine article) but this was a fun book.
The book reports the personal writing and report of a therapist who has a very interesting client. This did lead me to ask my therapist if she could write a book about me, even if it would be boring. She told me that she really doesn’t take many notes and only writes things down if she is going to bring them up next time. This novel is based on a therapist’s journals.
The main characters are the therapist and her client who has claimed the ability to be invisible. The story revolves around what he claims to do when invisible. Many lines of privacy are crossed, people are hurt, and the client doesn’t appear to be overly concerned, but he is seeing a therapist. The book centers on this concept of snooping and looking at the mundane details of everyone’s lives and how people then judge the individual. If someone doesn’t eat healthy, we judge. If someone is alone, we consider them lonely. And this has only been accelerated by the gluttony of mundane reality shows that showcase the every day “real” lives of individuals. Television has allowed us to look at the lives of people who have jobs, who go home, who have accidents, who have lives that self-destruct, and it has become entertainment. The invisible man has this same thrill. He appears to be a lost individual who has tried to create this ability and once he has it, he uses it to just sit in people’s houses when they aren’t home and wait for them to arrive.
It’s not an uplifting book that makes you see mankind in a positive light, but the story moves very quickly and the details of the man’s days are fascinating. It is a strange feeling to be reading the discussions of a man who is acting in such a creepy manner and to want to know what happens. But I believe that’s the human nature that Klosterman is writing about. Mankind does like to understand why people do things and want to know the end of the story. I believe this is why serialized fiction has made a comeback on television and that these reality shows have such shelf-lives. We want to know what happens next, even if what happens is not good. The Visible Man is that story. Things don’t always end well but we are interested nonetheless. I recommend this book highly.
Here is a book trailer (I didn’t know they had these either):
On a similar note, I watched the movie Griff The Invisble about two weeks after I finished the book. The movie isn’t very good and is more of a bad superhero movie than a look at what invisibility would mean to a person. It starts simiply enough with a character who is trying to do good and bring justice to the world and is obviously not good at it. But it takes a lot of weird turns. It becomes a love story. A fantasy tale where I don’t know if anything is real or imaginary. A very bloody action movie. But none of these stories really add up to a good whole. There are light hearted moments between Griff (Ryan Kwanten) and his brother who does not want him fighting crime and a subplot between Griff and a coworker he doesn’t like, but both of these relationships don’t move past the surface. After reading The Visible Man, I was hoping for more from this story, but it did fill the time.