What Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters Taught Me

“Rip yourself open, sew yourself shut.”

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These are the words that I have kept with me—even inked onto my skin, ever since I read Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters. This is a novel that has resonated with me so tremendously that I wanted a constant reminder of it in my life.

Chuck Palahniuk’s work, described as transgressional fiction, consists of gory details that are not for the faint of heart. Some of his novels include Choke, Lullaby, Diary, Beautiful You, Snuff and probably his well-known novel Fight Club. (Yes, the popular cult-classic film starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt is a book adaptation.)

Invisible Monsters tells the story of an unnamed disfigured woman, who later is given the name of Daisy St. Patience by Brandy, a trans woman, who she spends most of her time with in this story. Daisy St. Patience used to be a former model who was the center of attention. A freak accident caused her to lose her speech due to her jaw being ripped off. Now, she is an invisible monster.

I read this book in about four hours and it was physically impossible for me to but the book down. I was perched against the radiator with the book held so close to my eyes (I soon realised I’d need glasses), and once I was finished, I held it tightly against my chest. I didn’t think a book about a disfigured woman incapable of speech would ever resonate with me. But it's a great book.

 Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk

In Invisible Monsters, a character named Brandy, also referred to as Queen Supreme, will alter the narrator’s life, both past, present and future, as they go on a path to exact revenge on the people who have wronged the narrator. There are too many plot twists that shocked me—but no spoilers here!

“Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.”

Invisible Monsters might not seem like the typical 'inspiring' novel, not for example like the Harry Potter series (which I'm still obsessed with even now) or The Perks of Being a Wallflower (another favourite of mine).

But strangely it's this book that has helped me cope in moments when I thought I was hopeless. That’s the thing about books: they have a way of making you feel not so alone.

“When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.”

The words that Palahniuk wrote down on the pages of the novel spoke to me in a completely different way than most novels. It was as if Brandy and Daisy St. Patience were talking to me directly.

Even though I’ve never experienced anything as chaotic as the characters in Palahniuk's novel have, I felt like I was along for the ride and still we had something in common, something to share, whether it was our isolation, loneliness or the need to redefine ourselves out of the slump.

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”

Invisible Monsters taught me that ultimately I am the only one who can save myself. There is no one coming along to save me, because this is my story. I have to write it, and I have the power to change it--or rather, to change myself and my life as much as I want to. Like beauty, happiness comes from within.

 “My inventory of people who can save me is just down to me.”

Brandy and Daisy St. Patience taught me great life lessons that I will recite like a mantra. But the one advice I want to pass onto you is this:

“Your past is just a story. And once you realize this, it has no power over you.”


by Yagmur Ozmen