cover image The Visible Man

The Visible Man

Chuck Klosterman. Scribner, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4391-8446-2

Klosterman's (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) deadpan humor is on full display in this tour de force exploration of intimacy and voyeurism. Austin-based therapist Victoria Vick takes on new client "Y____," as she calls him, a brilliant, cruel, troubled, and cagy man who refuses to see her in person or explain why he wants help. Y____ claims to be a rogue government scientist in possession of a stolen body suit and a light-trapping skin cream that render him ostensibly invisible. Sneaking into people's homes is merely "a scientific endeavor," he insists. Victoria is skeptical of Y____, but his creepy, riveting monologues about his observations draw her under his spell. Y____'s invasions are marvelously detailed; aware of the "dim, undefined" shadow cast by his secret suit, he avoids "walking in front of south facing windows during the afternoon." Klosterman layers on the formal virtuosity by presenting his novel as an early draft of a book about Y____ that Victoria has assembled from notes, voice mails, and session transcripts. Although the narrative resolution lacks the inventiveness Klosterman brings to the form (Y____'s motives are disappointingly conventional), this novel is still strikingly original, a vibrant mix of thriller, sci-fi, and literary fiction genres. (Oct.)