Books: A Serious Image Problem BEING INVISIBLE

Serious Image Problem BEING INVISIBLE by Thomas Berger; Little, Brown; 262 pages; $16.95 MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN by H.F. Saint Atheneum; 396 pages; $18.95

To become invisible, to move through the world unseen: it is a primal, universal fantasy. Most people who indulge it probably imagine the advantages that H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man expected from it, "the mystery, the power, the freedom." But novelists, those eternal spoilsports, keep pointing out the fantasy's downside. Wells' protagonist eventually despaired of himself as a "helpless absurdity" before being hunted down and beaten to death. Now two contemporary writers, an artful veteran and a clever newcomer, offer variations on the theme that are hardly more optimistic. Their central characters, while not quite killed, lose virtually everything else along...

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