Reviews for Visible Man : A Novel

Booklist Reviews 2011 September #1
*Starred Review* As his fans know, Klosterman writes quirky, edgy, disturbing, and yet quite funny material, and his newest is no exception. A man contacts Austin, Texas, therapist Victoria Vick, insisting that he is unique and that his personal situation is unlike anything she has ever come across. In order for her to accept him as a patient, she must agree to several conditions, most significantly that they conduct their sessions over the telephone. We soon learn that the mysterious Y---- is a scientist who is able to make himself invisible. His desire, he tells her, is to study people when they are alone and, thus, at their most honest. The story turns darker, and creepier, as the therapist learns more about Y---- and as their relationship changes from that of strictly patient-therapist to something a bit more complicated. Klosterman has fashioned a compelling and exceedingly entertaining page-turner of a novel that touches on various aspects of popular culture, from the pervasive influence of the media on our day-to-day lives to the role of science in society to such basic issues as what constitutes identity and reality. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2

An author best known for his journalism and nonfiction books makes a big leap with his second novel.

The former mid-market newspaper rock critic has attracted a growing following since his breakout debut (Fargo Rock City, 2001), which was all about coming of age far from the media centers and arbiters of hip. Since then, he has expanded from music to sports and pop culture in general, always reflecting a Gen X attitude at odds with the baby-boomer verities. Thus, it's characteristic to have his second novel dismiss a pot-smoking Beatles fan as "listening to dead hippies sing about the Maharishi." Yet this novel is far more daring and ambitious than his debut novel (Downtown Owl, 2008), which was mainly a fictionalized version of coming of age in North Dakota. It concerns a therapist and a most unusual patient. Initially, he refuses to meet her in person or to allow her to ask questions, opting instead for long monologues over the phone (which constitute a hefty chunk of the narrative). It's unclear to both the therapist and the reader why he has sought her services, since he doesn't seem to be looking for advice or even perspective. Instead, he has a story to tell, about how he has been able to make himself unseen (he hates the term "invisible") and share the living spaces of other loners in order to gain insight into the essence of people when they think no one is watching. "No one will ever be as close to her as I was that night, because no one else can ever be with her when she's alone," he says. As the patient relates episodes that progress from observing to intervening in others' lives, often with catastrophic consequences, the therapist resists her inclination to terminate their relationship: "Would I ever have a patient this interesting again? Never. This was like being Hitler's therapist, or Springsteen's, or Superman's."

Immersed as always in popular culture, but rises to the challenge of creative fiction.

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 September #1

Austin, TX, therapist Victoria Vick reports on a disturbing new client: a man with a method to render himself invisible. Unseen, the man, referred to as Y_____, sneaks into the homes of solitary men and women and spies on them for days on end, claiming that he is observing them scientifically in a truly unguarded state. In the "therapy" sessions, which Y_____ controls unchallenged, he expounds on insights gained while watching people make dinner, watch television, sleep, drink, and perform other mundane tasks. His increasingly bizarre narratives fascinate Victoria, as she struggles to determine what is real and what is fabricated. Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto) surveys various philosophical and psychological topics, filtered through Y_____'s pedantic diatribes, also toying with the nature of fiction itself as Victoria and her husband separate the fake from the merely fantastic. Y_____ becomes an increasingly sinister threat to Victoria, who is (somewhat unaccountably) lured into crossing the line separating therapist and patient, which leads to a violent and troubling confrontation. VERDICT A philosophical yet focused and fast-moving book for contemporary fiction readers.--John R. Cecil, Austin, TX

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 June #2

Klosterman's (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs) deadpan humor is on full display in this tour de force exploration of intimacy and voyeurism. Austin-based therapist Victoria Vick takes on new client "Y____," as she calls him, a brilliant, cruel, troubled, and cagy man who refuses to see her in person or explain why he wants help. Y____ claims to be a rogue government scientist in possession of a stolen body suit and a light-trapping skin cream that render him ostensibly invisible. Sneaking into people's homes is merely "a scientific endeavor," he insists. Victoria is skeptical of Y____, but his creepy, riveting monologues about his observations draw her under his spell. Y____'s invasions are marvelously detailed; aware of the "dim, undefined" shadow cast by his secret suit, he avoids "walking in front of south facing windows during the afternoon." Klosterman layers on the formal virtuosity by presenting his novel as an early draft of a book about Y____ that Victoria has assembled from notes, voice mails, and session transcripts. Although the narrative resolution lacks the inventiveness Klosterman brings to the form (Y____'s motives are disappointingly conventional), this novel is still strikingly original, a vibrant mix of thriller, sci-fi, and literary fiction genres. (Oct.)

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