Literature: Invisible Monsters

"Give me attention. Flash."

Invisible Monsters is a 1999 novel by Chuck Palahniuk about a beautiful fashion model. Despite her awful past and family difficulties, "Daisy St. Patience" continues to be widely successful, and even holds down a relationship with a handsome detective. That is, until everything goes to hell and her entire lower jaw is blown off in a drive-by shooting.

Save for her mangled jaw and inability to talk, she is left perfectly intact and carefully drives herself to hospital, only to soon suffer a massive breakdown when she learns birds flew into her car and ate the remains of her face. Soon switching to baby food and starting ventriloquism lessons to learn how to talk again, Daisy quickly adopts a few veils when she meets Brandy Alexander, the large-handed drag queen supreme who is one surgery away from being a "real" woman. Taking Daisy under her wing, Brandy gives her a new identity and starts teaching her how to let go of her past and live again.

Interestingly, the book was originally denied by publishers for being too dark, and Invisible Monsters was supposed to be Palahniuk's first novel; after responding by making an even more offensive novel (which turned out to be his most famous book — Fight Club), the eventual success of Fight Club meant Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters was given another chance and published.

Not to be confused with the other Invisible Monsters.

Tropes found in this work:

  • Anachronic Order: The first book jumps around frequently, but the Remix version jumps around even more through a "choose your own adventure" type guidance you can optionally follow.note 
  • And I Must Scream: An interesting variant, as the narrator instead copes with her suicidal temptations and lack of mouth by laughing manically (as it's all people can understand from her).
    What the doctors told me was unless they rebuilt me some kind of jaw [...] I could die any time I fell asleep. I could just stop breathing and not wake up. A quick, painless death.
    On my pad with my pen, I wrote:
    don't tease
  • Arc Words
    • Sorry, Mom. Sorry, God.
    • Give me X. Flash.
    • Jump to…
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • The Blank: "Birds ate my face."
  • Body Horror
  • Death Faked for You: The Rhea sisters fake Brandy Alexander's death so they can start her transition.
  • Drag Queen: Rhea sisters.
  • Evil Feels Good
  • Face Stealer: It turns out Brandy looks exactly like the narrator.
  • First-Person Smartass
  • Gag Boobs: Brandy Alexander
  • How We Got Here: Being one of Chuck's favorite tropes. The book starts with Evie dressed in the remains of a burned dress, having just shot Brandy while the two of them and the narrator are in a burning mansion. And it goes downhill from there.
  • Nightmare Face: This is so bad that the narrator can steal a turkey without being caught.
    • Yup. (this might be considered NSFW)
  • No Name Given: The narrator, until the very end. It's Shannon MacFarland, if you're curious.
  • The Reveal: -deep breath- Brandy Alexander is Shane, the narrator's brother. And Shane never died from AIDS. Also, Brandy isn't actually a transsexual because she doesn't want to be a woman. She just wants to destroy herself. And Manus is Seth, who is actually gay and only likes the narrator because she looks exactly like Shane. Oh and speaking of Shane, Seth was the one who molested him and gave him an STD. And Evie is actually a transsexual and the whole shooting in the opening chapter was set up by her and Brandy. They knew each other through a transgender support group. And Brandy has known all of this from the beginning. Yeah, and the narrator, Shannon MacFarland? She shot herself in the face. It's all her fault. -exhale-
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Brandy Alexander
  • Sue Donym: The "Brandy Alexander Relocation Program" means the protagonists have to constantly change ridiculous identities (such as "Hewlett Packard", among others.)
  • Theme Naming: Shane and Shannon.
  • Transsexual: Brandy Alexander and Evie. Although technically, the former doesn't count because for her it's just a form of self-mutilation.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The narrator confesses she just hates everyone and that in fact nobody behaves worse than she does.
  • Updated Re-release: In 2012, the book was republished as Invisible Monsters Remix, with the Anachronic Order even more mixed up and structured like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.