Sassy, No Spoilers: The Invention of Sound

book reviews, fiction

Secretive Foley artists? The perfect scream as a weapon? Washed out actresses? Yes, please.

To know me is to know I love, love, Chuck Palahniuk. I started reading his books in the late 90s/early 00’s, when I’d get made fun of in high school for carrying around books with dead birds on them (hello, Lullaby). But I didn’t care, and each Palahniuk release was (and still is) my escape into a chaotic (and often nihilistic) world full of characters that you’re not supposed to like, but somehow find yourself pulling for them anyway.

And The Invention of Sound is no different.

Have you ever wondered who makes all the screams in your favorite horror movies? Especially the old ones, where the screams sound eerily real? Well, our MC, Mitzi, might know all about the magic behind all that. She’s Hollywood’s favorite Foley artist, with a penchant for popping Ambien and throwing it back with wine. She’s got secrets, y’all. The family business is booming, but why does she feel like such a monster?

On the other hand, we have Foster, who has a deep and problematic obsession with finding his daughter’s kidnapper. He thinks he’s a vigilante for kidnapped children, but he’s really bad at it. When he gets a tip that might help him solve his daughter’s case, all hell breaks loose.

The dual narrative of Mitzi and Foster kept me on my toes, with the story tension relieved by excerpts from the memoirs of a Hollywood star, Blush Gentry. Can we take a moment to appreciate Blush Gentry? Is that not the absolute best name for a character, or what? I dare you to find a better one.

Without giving away anything, let’s just say this is a quick read, and you’ll find yourself googling things like “Foley artists” and “Wilhelm scream.” Just like any other Palahniuk book, the research is solid, and you’ll wonder what’s real and what isn’t—just like the characters in the book.

Palahniuk books are very special to me, as I’m sure anyone reading this has that author that they will follow to the end of time. His characters raise big questions about the way we view ourselves, and how we’re often wrong. His stories can (and will) make you laugh/cry. Just like I argue that Stephen King’s books are actually deep on a human (and often, cultural) level, so too are Palahniuk’s stories of people on the edge of civilization.

I recommend The Invention of Sound to people that are curious about reading a book that isn’t Fight Club, but want to dive into the very approachable voice and world of Palahniuk. Also, fans of:

  • The absurdities of Hollywood
  • Nerd-level research about things like Foley artists and sound engineering
  • Characters that are possibly nihilists, but don’t think they are, which leads to personal chaos and so. much. conflict.

Rating: 5 out of 5.