Posts Tagged ‘Popular culture’

The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman (image via amazon.com)

By Chuck Klosterman
Started: February 27 (?)
Finished: March 24

I’m a huge Chuck Klosterman fan. A Klostermannite, if you will (anyone want to help me make that a thing?). I love Chuck Klosterman so much, I seriously considered spending a semester abroad in Leipzig, Germany because he was a guest lecturer there for a semester. When I applied to the Communications program (secondary major, woo!) during my sophomore year of college, I pulled a quote from Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs to explain why I wanted to study mass communication (and essentially, pop culture) at an academic level. I’m that dedicated

The Visible Man is Klosterman’s second foray into fiction (the first was Downton Owl) and much like his first book, Man is so outlandish at times you feel like you’re reading science fiction, not straight up fiction. Like Owl, The Visible Man is also slightly depressing and I had a hard time sympathizing (or even liking) the characters. And then there is the case of the alway popular unreliable narrator; a good chunk of the story is told through letters from Victoria Vick, a therapist treating an unusual patient and is seeking a book deal. Y___., is the anonymous patient who claims he has stolen a secret government cloaking device that renders Y__. nearly invisible.

Y__. uses this ability to observe people in their “natural” habitat, to see how they act when no one is looking. As the story progresses, Vick progresses into near madness, constantly in fear of being watched, and Y__. exhibits obsessive behavior, almost relishing in the anguish he causes Vick and her disabled husband.To tie this back into my aforementioned Communications degree, it reinforced a basic principleĀ  of social observation experiment known as the Hawthorne Effect, which postulates that subjects unknowingly modify their behaviorĀ  in response to knowing they are being watch. If this is true, can we really put stock in the data collected through social observation experimentation?

Fun fact: my copy of The Visible Man is not on my large stack of “read in 2013” books because my copy is personally signed by Mr. Chuck Klosterman himself! Since I was not in NYC, my selfless boyfriend attended his lecture at the Union Square Barnes & Noble and emerged with both the book and a recording of a personal message from Chuck to me.


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