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The Invention of Sound
Cover of The Invention of Sound
The Invention of Sound

A father searching for his missing daughter is suddenly given hope when a major clue is discovered, but learning the truth could shatter the seemingly perfect image Hollywood is desperate to uphold.


Gates Foster lost his daughter, Lucy, seventeen years ago. He's never stopped searching. Suddenly, a shocking new development provides Foster with his first major lead in over a decade, and he may finally be on the verge of discovering the awful truth.
Meanwhile, Mitzi Ives has carved out a space among the Foley artists creating the immersive sounds giving Hollywood films their authenticity. Using the same secret techniques as her father before her, she's become an industry-leading expert in the sound of violence and horror, creating screams so bone-chilling, they may as well be real.
Soon Foster and Ives find themselves on a collision course that threatens to expose the violence hidden beneath Hollywood's glamorous façade. A grim and disturbing reflection on the commodification of suffering and the dangerous power of art, The Invention of Sound is Chuck Palahniuk at the peak of his literary powers — his most suspenseful, most daring, and most genre-defying work yet.

A father searching for his missing daughter is suddenly given hope when a major clue is discovered, but learning the truth could shatter the seemingly perfect image Hollywood is desperate to uphold.


Gates Foster lost his daughter, Lucy, seventeen years ago. He's never stopped searching. Suddenly, a shocking new development provides Foster with his first major lead in over a decade, and he may finally be on the verge of discovering the awful truth.
Meanwhile, Mitzi Ives has carved out a space among the Foley artists creating the immersive sounds giving Hollywood films their authenticity. Using the same secret techniques as her father before her, she's become an industry-leading expert in the sound of violence and horror, creating screams so bone-chilling, they may as well be real.
Soon Foster and Ives find themselves on a collision course that threatens to expose the violence hidden beneath Hollywood's glamorous façade. A grim and disturbing reflection on the commodification of suffering and the dangerous power of art, The Invention of Sound is Chuck Palahniuk at the peak of his literary powers — his most suspenseful, most daring, and most genre-defying work yet.

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About the Author-
  • Chuck Palahniuk has been a nationally bestselling author since his first novel, 1996's Fight Club, was made into the acclaimed David Fincher film of the same name. Palahniuk's work has sold millions of copies worldwide. He lives outside Portland, Oregon.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 13, 2020
    Palahniuk (Fight Club) puts a wickedly playful spin on the mechanics of horror filmmaking in this genre-bending novel. Mitzi Ives is the proprietor of Ives Foley Arts, a sound effects company that specializes in selling canned screams to the film industry. Mitzi’s products are in high demand owing to their authenticity: unknown to most, she creates them by recording the agonized shrieks of the people she butchers in her sound studio. Mitzi is on a collision course with Gates Foster, a bereaved father who has never recovered from the disappearance of his seven-year-old daughter, Lucinda, who went missing 17 years earlier. Readers will be able to guess Lucinda’s connection to Mitzi, though Palahniuk adds enough twists to keep the mystery fresh. This dark, humorous tale sparkles with inventive details—including a scream powerful enough to crumble buildings—and provocative insights on “the commodification of pain” and what it means to turn “people’s basic humanity into something that could be bought and sold.” The result is a wry, devilish delight. Agents: Dan Kirschen and Sloan Harris, ICM.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2020

    A tragedy at the Academy Awards is the central event of this sardonically sinister Hollywood tale. Mitzi Ives is a sound engineer whose specialty is creating the most powerful and realistic screams for the movies and TV--effects she obtains by actually murdering the victims. Gates Foster's daughter, Lucinda, disappeared years earlier and has never been found, and he now makes an avocation of tracking child molesters. Blush Gentry is a B movie actress trying to rekindle her career. Gates hears Lucinda's voice in a horror film in which Blush stars, and plans to kidnap her at a comic con where she's appearing, a move she happily abets. The pair hole up in Blush's now-foreclosed mansion, and Gates learns that Mitzi's studio is the source of the scream. Mitzi, meanwhile, has recorded a scream with an acoustic resonance that has caused two theaters to crumble, killing the patrons inside. And now the scream is to be played at the Academy Awards. VERDICT Combining straight narrative with excerpts from Blush's manuscript, Oscarpocalypse Now, Palahniuk's (Adjustment Day) novel undergirds the ordinary reality of movie production with a horror movie universe possessing curiously biblical overtones, a world where justice ultimately prevails--right down to the gleefully cynical denouement. [See Prepub Alert, 3/18/20.]--Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2020
    The modern architect of transgressive fiction returns with the tale of a sonic artist looking for the perfect scream. Palahniuk dives deep into Hollywood noir with a grotesque and outrageous stand-alone that marries the sexual deviance of Snuff (2008) with the late-stage sadism of Bret Easton Ellis. Reminding us from the beginning, "Keep Telling Yourself It's Only a Movie," Palahniuk thrusts us into the demented world of one Mitzi Ives, a pill-popping, masochistic, borderline psychotic woman whose specialty in her profession as a freelance Foley artist is capturing the screams of people in the worst agony of their lives. Her narrative runs parallel to that of Gates Foster, an investigator who specializes in tracking down pedophiles. Also in the mix is fading movie star Blush Gentry, whose autobiography, Oscarpocalypse Now, interrupts the torture scenes from time to time, as well as Schlo, the inevitably creepy movie producer. The figure that ties all these deviants together is Dr. Adamah, nominally the physician for Mitzi but, at the book's core, its real villain. You have to give Palahniuk credit, because there's just nobody like him when it comes to skeeving out readers, but as in many of his nihilist fancies, there's nobody to root for here. Gates is a bit useless in the detective department, and Mitzi quite literally disses her boyfriend, Jimmy, because he "only managed to knock out one of her front teeth." Palahniuk is an acquired taste, and fans will appreciate the story that scrapes like fingernails on a chalkboard and the familiar post-capitalism end-of-the-world vibe, but it might be a little too close for comfort for less amenable readers. A Hollywood fantasy that's all about hurt until the very end, which is so much worse.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2020
    In Palahniuk's inventive, lacerating satire, grief-stricken Foster Gates is still looking for closure 17 years after his seven-year-old daughter went missing. HIs unrelenting search leads him down a rabbit hole of online child sex rings on the dark web and eventually spurs him to vigilantism. Imaginative plot lines and grim humor abound as the action shifts to Hollywood's self-aggrandizing theater of the absurd, where Mitzi Ives is a young, successful Foley artist sought after for creating sound effects of human bodies coming to harm. She knows that the sound of a skull hitting concrete involves a double layer of soda crackers glued to a watermelon and smacked with a baseball bat, while she has her own process for creating startlingly believable screams of torture victims. Palahniuk expertly balances skewering of cultural institutions with profound insights into the nature of authenticity and the myriad ways we become damaged. The sheer abundance of creative ideas buoyed aloft by the vibrancy of the prose signal a master storyteller energized by delight in his own ingenuity.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: After his foray into literary advice, Consider This (2020), Palahniuk's heralded return to fiction will galvanize his many avid readers.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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Chuck Palahniuk
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