Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Memoirs of an Invisible Man



The Pequod Review:

Don’t be fooled by the terrible Chevy Chase movie, this is a superb novel about a 34-year-old Manhattan securities analyst (Nicholas Halloway) who becomes invisible following an accident at a nuclear laboratory. The first-person narrative is just a delight, with a droll and ironic tone:

If only you could see me now. You can’t and couldn’t, but I’m here. And although the explanation is banal, the effect is altogether magical. If you were to walk into this room now, you would find it quite empty — an empty chair before a desk empty save for a pad of un-lined paper. But above the paper you would see the pen, unheld, dancing over the surface, forming these words, pausing now and then in midair reflectively. You would be entranced, or terrified.

Unfortunately, I am holding the pen, and if you were quick enough and I were not, you could get a perfectly solid grip on me and satisfy yourself by sense of touch that an unseeable but otherwise unexceptional human being was in the room. Or you could pick up a chair and beat me senseless with it. I am sorry to say that this would not be an unusual course of action under the circumstances, for my condition, although perfectly anonymous, is undeniably bizarre. It provokes curiosity, and curiosity, I find, is a fairly vicious instinct. This is a trying existence. It is generally best to keep on the move.

In fact, this should probably be described as the “adventures” rather than the “memoirs” of an invisible man. Certainly I have no intention of going on about my childhood or the particular agonies of my particular adolescence, which was doubtless no more nor less interesting than your own. Nor will we need to discuss the specifics of my entirely ordinary intellectual and moral development. Nothing of this sort would contribute to my quite genuinely exciting and superficial story. Nor would it shed much light on the human condition, I am afraid. I understand that you only love me for my disease, so to speak, so that everything before its onset is irrelevant. For the first thirty-four years of my life I was exactly like everyone else, and while those years seemed compelling enough to me at the time, you would presumably not be reading a narrative entitled “Memoirs of a Securities Analyst.” Anyway, right in the middle of my rather ordinary way through life, a minor but altogether extraordinary scientific mishap rendered a small spherical chunk of New Jersey utterly invisible. As chance would have it, I was at the critical moment included in that spherical chunk. I, together with my immediate surroundings, was instantly transformed: just as in a petrified fossil the structure of the original organism is exactly reduplicated as an arrangement of mineral particles, so my body was exactly reduplicated as a living structure of minute units of energy. It functions very much as before— with, as far as I have been able to determine, only minor differences. But you cannot see it at all…

The story that follows blends elements of comedy, science fiction, satire (Wall Street is a frequent target) and even suspense, as Halloway evades government agents who seek to use him for their own purposes. What great fun.