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(Book Review) The Invention of Sound

With all of the insanity of 2020 raging at full speed, a reader probably has two basic options when choosing a book this year.  First, you can find something that will distract you from a tension of a global pandemic and presidential politics.  Maybe something lighthearted that features a puppy who gets separated from his family and has a great adventure as he makes his way back home.  The other choice is that you can lean in hard to the madness and dive into something like Chuck Palahniuk's new novel, The Invention of Sound  (out now.) 

The Fight Club author's latest story involves two main characters.  First, we have Gates Foster, a distraught father who still hasn't come to grips with the unsolved abduction of his young daughter seventeen years ago.  The other is Mitzi Ives, a Foley artist (they deal with the sound in movies) who is continuing the long family legacy of producing screams that leave a lasting impression on the audience.  Between the two, Palahniuk launches head -first into commentary about the commoditization of human suffering and other emotions, as well as a biting look at Hollywood in general.

It's hard to talk about the plot any further without getting into spoilers.  The Invention of Sound is only 228 pages long, and it wastes no time pulling you into its world of dangerous and sleazy characters.  Each page brings you one step further into the darkness, with an abundance of sex and violence.  It's easy to imagine Tyler Durden lurking around somewhere in the background, enjoying the chaos.   One can feel sympathy for Gates and Foster, even when they do terrible things, and Palahniuk's cultural observations along the way are spot-on.

There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments throughout The Invention of Sound, and we would expect nothing less.  This is not a book one recommends to someone who isn't already a fan of Palahniuk.  The twists and turns keep the reader engaged all the way until the end, a conclusion which could be seen as a commentary on modern love, the depths of human darkness, or perhaps both.  Chuck Palahniuk is in fine form here, and his audience will enjoy the book.  Let someone else read about the lost puppy - this is the more fitting adventure for 2020.


The Invention of Sound CoverChuck Palahniuk's new novel will have you listening to movies in a new way.  (pic via


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