Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix isn’t your standard re-release. The story of a disfigured model whose revenge rampage against her former best friend and her two-timing ex-boyfriend, with the assistance of an oddly supportive transsexual crook, is also a story about learning to love her monstrous self was originally published in 1999 only in paperback. But the Remix, now out in hardcover, is just that: a shuffling of the plot line with new chapters that creates a completely new reading experience—just as Palahniuk originally intended it.
Obliterating the traditional narrative arc, the new structure purposely jumps around in time. Playing off the story’s satire of modern notions of beauty and the fashion industry, Palahniuk intends for the reader to experience the book more like a magazine—the eye catching tidbits of stories and other exciting leads as the reader flips forwards and backwards through the pages. The process reminds us that life doesn’t always progress in the manner we think it will, but occurs instead in flashes, and that continuity does not necessarily follow a chronological fashion. One is left to wonder what will happen next or if anything was missed, turning the story into a gruesomely entertaining treasure hunt of sorts.
Of course, Remix remains stylistically chock full of sex and drugs interspersed with violence. Also true to Palahniuk style is the underlying struggle he pushes his protagonists through, pummeling them to the limit in their search for some understanding of their personal identity—a visceral writing style that simultaneously compels the reader to feel something, anything, amid it’s shock.
Palahniuk had intended the first version of Invisible Monsters to unfold in exactly this way, replacing the “and then, and then, and then” way of telling the story with a disorienting solitary emotional experience. As he explains in his essay The Guts Effect, this is precisely why he does what he does: “These are the places that only books can go. This is the advantage that books still have. That is why I write.”
Palahniuk will promote his West Coast centric Brandy Alexander Witness Reincarnation Project Tour at the Bing Lounge on June 21 at 6:30. The $100 ticket price includes a vodka tasting, appetizers, a copy of Remix and signings by Palahniuk as well as author Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water. Visit sthelensbookshop.com for details.