Thursday, September 14th, 2017...10:40 pmA New Woman

What the heck did I just read?

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8th grade was not, in hindsight, the greatest age for me to encounter “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk. In just a few hundred pages, my 13-year-old self was bombarded with a model who gets shot in the face and meets a transgender sugar baby funded by three drag queens who turns out to be the model’s (formerly believed to be) dead gay brother. And that’s only one of many plotlines. Don’t even get me started on the policeman boyfriend who starts an affair with the model’s best model friend, breaks into the two models’ shared apartment to attempt to murder our main character, gets accused of shooting our main character, gets drugged, locked in a trunk, and set on fire by our main character, and ends up marrying the best model friend. At the time, like Bishop with the unfiltered photos in NatGeo, I was too young to have been faced with such raw and perhaps dramatized facets of life and fully understand what I was looking at; I don’t think I really knew what it meant to be transgender, or a drag queen, or the dangers of AIDS specifically in gay communities. I was simply fascinated and highly entertained by the screaming, drugging, knifing, shooting, and house burning that ensued throughout the book. Now, though, I’m stunned by how much like a soap opera it reads, and yet I remember how thoroughly enamored by it I was, even though I didn’t understand 75% of what was happening. For all my abilities at close reading, analytical skills, and high-nosed literature, I can’t deny it; I always have been and will forever be a sucker for all that is cheesy and dramatic.


  • I’m kind of interested in reading this book now… does it read as realistic in any way or is it super dramatic to the point of being completely unbelievable?
    Do you think the book was aimed at young teens like yourself who were unprepared for the ‘harsh reality’ of the world it presented, or were you a particularly sheltered reader?

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 17th, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Jordyn–you are so right about the connection of your experience, of being in a kind of thrall to Palahniuk’s narrative, to Bishop’s of the NG photos. How did this book find you in the first place?

    Where might you put a paragraph break in this post?

  • Hi Jordyn! The experiences children when we experience things we know we shouldn’t are always so vivid, which I find interesting. I also was wondering how you found this book, and also if you have read it since then. Also, is the book simply entertainment, or is it meant to have a more serious message?

  • I like how you described the facets of life (as shown in this story) as “raw and perhaps dramatized.” It made me wonder if Bishop’s interpretation of NatGeo was also “dramatized.” While her description of the images she saw seemed basic, she then goes on to say that the breasts were “horrifying.” Does this dramatization of life come out of being young or immature?

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