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Invisible Monsters

Invisible Monsters is a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, published in 1999. It is his third novel to be published, though it was his second written novel (after the unpublished Insomnia: If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Already). The novel was originally supposed to be Palahniuk's first novel to be published, but it was rejected by the publisher for being too disturbing. After the success of his novel Fight Club, Invisible Monsters was given a second chance, and a revised version of it was published. It has since been adapted into a graphic novel by comic artist Kissgz, a.k.a. Gabor.

Plot summary

The story concerns a disfigured girl who is going by the fake name of Daisy Saint Patience. The novel opens on the wedding day of Ms. Evie Cottrell, where her house has caught fire and is burning to the ground--the reason for this is revealed later in the novel.

Brandy Alexander, a pre-operative transsexual, has been shot, and asks Daisy to tell her life story. This causes Daisy to look back at how she first met Brandy.

The story is told in a non-linear manner, but this synopsis is in roughly chronological order.

Daisy was the daughter of a farmer who feeds pigs old snacks to constipate them so that they are fatter than they should be. Daisy has an older brother named Shane who gets all of the attention because of a terrible incident: while burning trash, a full can of hairspray is thrown into the trash which explodes in his face. Daisy is angry because she feels neglected by her parents, and eventually in pursuit of attention she becomes a model.

The police think that Shane's accident was abuse, but although they investigate the family, they find nothing and it becomes a cold case. Eventually, 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 in the throat. 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 Daisy's future fiancé, Manus Kelly.

Daisy's best friend is Evelyn "Evie" Cottrell, a rich Texan who lives in a giant mansion by herself. Daisy and Evie went to modeling school together. Daisy and Evie participate in an infomercial together, as demonstrators for the Num Num Snack Factory. It is about this time that Evie starts a relationship with Manus, the policeman who raped Shane.

While driving down the highway, Daisy is shot in the face. The shot rips off her jaw. Daisy 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 Daisy is learning to speak without a lower jaw. At this time Manus cheats on Daisy with Evie.

When Daisy 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 Daisy. It is then that Daisy 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 Rhea sisters are Sofonda Peters, Kitty Litter, and the vivacious Vivienne VaVane. The three are drag queens and their stage names are Gon Rhea, Die Rhea, and Pie Rhea. The three are rich from a Katty Kathy doll that Sofonda made. At the hotel room, Daisy learns that Brandy Alexander is really her brother, Shane McFarland, and that as a woman he wanted to look like her.

Next, Brandy, Daisy, and Manus go all around North America, going to open house of rich people to steal drugs to sell for money. The real reason they do this, though, is to run away. At this time, Daisy starts feeding Manus estrogen pills because she is in love with him and realizes that if she cannot be with him, she must destroy him.

They finally decide to go back where they learn that Evie was once a man and that she is going to get married. They crash the wedding and Daisy sets fire to the house. The groom cannot be found anywhere, until they find out that he is having sex with Manus in the kitchen. This infuriates Evie, and she shoots Brandy, mistaking her for Daisy. While Brandy is bleeding to death, they tell each other the truth. Brandy is actually Daisy's brother and put the hairspray can in the trash himself, and we finally learn that Daisy's real name is Shannon and that she shot herself.

Brandy eventually survives and Shannon tells her that Brandy can have her life that she threw away by shooting herself.

Characters

  • "Shannon McFarland," — Former fashion model, narrator. The narrator goes by many different names, due to Brandy Alexander's witness reinvention program.
  • Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme — A transsexual Shannon meets during her stay in the hospital who is only one operation away from becoming a woman. Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme encourages Shannon to hide her disfigurement and attempt to live a new lifestyle.
  • Evelyn "Evie" Cottrell - Fashion model. Shannon's former best friend.
  • Manus Kelley - Shannon's ex-fiancé, he's a police officer.
  • The Rhea Sisters - Three drag queens who are paying for The Queen Supreme's sex change operation. Their stage names are Gon Rhea, Die Rhea, and Pie Rhea. Their real names are Sofonda Peters, Kitty Litter, and the vivacious Vivienne VaVane.

Film Adaptation

Imdb.com has a link for Invisible Monsters., though no further information is disclosed. Chuck Palahniuk's website does include rumors that Jesse Peyronel would direct. It also hints at Jessica Biel as the lead role.

Release details

  • September 1999, USA, W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-31929-6, paperback (first edition)
  • 2 November 2000, USA, Vintage, ISBN 0-09-928544-4, paperback

References in popular culture

  • The band Panic at the Disco's song, Time to Dance, is based entirely on Invisible Monsters.
  • The band Motion City Soundtrack's song, Invisible Monsters, a b-side to their 2005 album Commit This to Memory, takes its name from and is loosely based on Invisible Monsters.
  • The Canadian singer Feist has a song called Brandy Alexander, though it is less likely in reference to the Invisible Monsters character as to the drink of the same name.
  • In the South Park episode "Britney's New Look", Britney Spears shoots herself in the mouth with a shotgun, but survives without anything above her jaw (the opposite of Invisible Monsters, where Shannon loses her jaw). This is a more absurdist take on the same Invisible Monsters concept: a beautiful celebrity disfiguring herself to escape her own beauty and the related pressure of being an icon in order to improve her own life.

See also

Footnotes

External links

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