Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk was one of his earliest books, though it was initially rejected by publishers for its disturbing content. After the success of Fight Club, publishers came around to this sordid story about high fashion, a galaxy of pills, vaginoplasty, AIDS, a shotgun, and the Brandy Alexander Witness Reincarnation Program.
Our beautiful, unnamed narrator drifting around in a rental car with Seth Thomas and the queen supreme Brandy Alexander has a bit of an identity crisis going on: she’s missing half her face. A mysterious gunshot through her half-open car window led her to the hospital, where she lost her modeling job and her fiancé but was introduced to Brandy, a larger-than-life version of herself well on her way to becoming a woman.
The paragraphs within chapters jump abruptly from the past to the present, from the end to the beginning, and back and forth between what the future should have been and what we all wound up with instead. Our narrator compares reading her story to reading an article in a fashion magazine which makes you “Continue to Page ___.” “No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.”
This book has a considerable number of plot twists, even for a Palahniuk novel. If you pick this one up, just keep in mind: names change, uppers fade, and mascara runs, but you can only truly change if you challenge yourself more than you think you can bear.