Picks and Pans Review: Memoirs of An Invisible Man

UPDATED 06/01/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/01/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

by H.F. Saint

Do not wait for the movie. Don't wait for the paperback. Read this magnificent novel now before it disappears like its narrator. This invisible man story is more inventive, ingenious, entertaining and exciting than any you've read or seen before. Saint—a 45-year-old New Yorker who sold his squash-court company so he could write a first novel—gives great thought to what the details of invisibility might be like. Others have seen the condition as an asset; Saint has the courage to portray it as an affliction that breeds loneliness and fear. His protagonist, stock analyst Nick Halloway, is nursing a hangover in the men's room of a high-tech company when a mysterious accident in magnetism occurs. Nick, the building, the ground below and one cat become invisible. Government agents—nasty but, thank goodness, not cartoonishly or transparently evil—try to catch Nick. He, however, is smart enough to escape life as a lab animal. He's also smart enough to realize that only the items in the building at the time of the accident are invisible, so he steals clear clothes, tools and a gun. He soon learns other rules of life: The food he eats is visible even if he isn't and he can be heard if not seen. He also learns how to make money, walking unnoticed into corporate offices so that he can profit from takeovers. With Wall Street's current—and quite visible—crimes of insider trading, Saint may have been tempted to turn his novel into a financial thriller, but he resists. Instead, he concentrates on his character—making Nick an immensely sympathetic, clever man; on his story—giving us rousing chase scenes; and on his writing—concocting special effects with words that will be hard for any director to duplicate when Chevy Chase plays Nick in the already-in-development movie. A wow of a book. (Atheneum, $18.95)

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