Yesterday, I went to a game party at work. I won a couple of games, which was more than my share. You might think that means I'm a brilliant strategist, until you find out what games I won (and how). There was Syzygy, where I drew many many wildcard tiles. Lucky, lucky. And there was The Great Dalmuti, wherein I won the original low-card draw, thus setting myself up for a big advantage in the game proper. Lucky, lucky. Maybe I'm a lucky person. When people ask me if I really believe I'm a lucky person, I point out that I was born a white male in the USA; then they don't know what to think. So that makes two of us. Ah, race. Race race race.
As I started reading The Invisible Man, I thought I knew the gimmick: a story about an invisible man which pokes fun at the social invisibility of African Americans at the time. But that wasn't it. This book is about the politics of race. It doesn't even seem to be about invisibility--its protagonist is a public speaker; people act on his suggestions.
In the end, I enjoyed this book but it took a while after I finished it to figure that out. As I read it, I waited for it to turn into a book that matched its title. When the protagonist goes to work in a paint factory and works with chemicals he doesn't understand, I was so ready for the mysterious accident which would... Don't trust the title; don't trust the prologue; they seem like foreshadowing; they are not really, not unless you're willing to jump through some hoops. There is "invisibility" in that people care more about the protagonist's roles than about him as a person--but that's not the main thing going on in the book.
It's funny in places, sad in others. It is nightmarish in places and it achieves some of that nightmarish effect by lingering overlong in scenes; those bog down, but you can skim them. It talks about politics, about great causes pulled down by petty squabbles. If you're in the mood to read an Important Book, this would be a good one; don't worry that you'll miss things if you skim the horror-ish bits.
Labels: book, brutal truth, urban morphology