Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

by Chuck Palahniuk

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307275837
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 108,138
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's seven novels are the bestselling Haunted, Lullaby, Fight Club (which was made into a film by director David Fincher), Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke. He is also the author of the nonfiction profile of Portland, Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journeys series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Hometown:

Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1962

Place of Birth:

Pasco, Washington

Education:

B.A. in journalism, University of Oregon, 1986

Read an Excerpt

1An Introduction


Wallace Boyer (Car Salesman): Like most people, I didn’t meet and talk to Rant Casey until after he was dead. That’s how it works for most celebrities: After they croak, their circle of close friends just explodes. A dead celebrity can’t walk down the street without meeting a million best buddies he never met in real life.

Dying was the best career move Jeff Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy ever made. After Gaetan Dugas was dead, the number of sex partners saying they’d fucked him, it went through the roof.

The way Rant Casey used to say it: Folks build a reputation by attacking you while you’re alive—or praising you after you ain’t.

For me, I was sitting on an airplane, and some hillbilly sits down next to me. His skin, it’s the same as any car wreck you can’t not stare at—dented with tooth marks, pitted and puckered, the skin on the back of his hands looks one godawful mess.

The flight attendant, she asks this hillbilly what’s it he wants to drink. The stewardess asks him to, please, reach my drink to me: scotch with rocks. But when I see those monster fingers wrapped around the plastic cup, his chewed–up knuckles, I could never touch my lips to the rim.

With the epidemic, a person can’t be too careful. At the airport, right beyond the metal detector we had to walk through, a fever monitor like they first used to control the spread of SARS. Most people, the government says, have no idea they're infected. Somebody can feel fine, but if that monitor beeps that your temperature's too high, you’ll disappear into quarantine. Maybe for the rest of your life. No trial, nothing.

To be safe, I only fold down my tray table and take the cup. I watch the scotch turn pale and watery. The ice melt and disappear.

Anybody makes a livelihood selling cars will tell you: Repetition is the mother of all skills. You build the gross at your dealership by building rapport.

Anywhere you find yourself, you can build your skills. A good trick to remember a name is you look the person in the eyes long enough to register their color: green or brown or blue. You call that a Pattern Interrupt: It stops you forgetting the way you always would.

This cowboy stranger, his eyes look bright green. Antifreeze green.

That whole connecting flight between Peco Junction and the city, we shared an armrest, me at the window, him on the aisle. Don’t shoot the messenger, but dried shit keeps flaking off his cowboy boots. Those long sideburns maybe scored him pussy in high school, but they’re gray from his temple to his jawbone now. Not to mention those hands.

To practice building rapport, I ask him what he paid for his ticket. If you can’t determine the customer needs, identify the hot buttons, of some stranger rubbing arms with you on an airplane, you’ll never talk anybody into taking “mental ownership” of a Nissan, much less a Cadillac.

For landing somebody in a car, another trick is: Every car on your lot, you program the number–one radio–station button to gospel music. The number–two button, set to rock and roll. The number–three, to jazz. If your prospect looks like a demander–commander type, the minute you unlock the car you set the radio to come on with the news or a politics talk station. A sandal wearer, you hit the National Public Radio button. When they turn the key, the radio tells them what they want to hear. Every car on the lot, I have the number–five button set to that techno–raver garbage in case some kid who does Party Crashing comes around.

The green color of the hillbilly’s eyes, the shit on his boots, salesmen call those “mental pegs.” Questions that have one answer, those are “closed questions.” Questions to get a customer talking, those are “open questions.”

For example: “How much did your plane ticket set you back?” That’s a closed question.

And, sipping from his own cup of whiskey, the man swallows. Staring straight ahead, he says, “Fifty dollars.”

A good example of an open question would be: “How do you live with those scary chewed–up hands?”

I ask him: For one way?

“Round–trip,” he says, and his pitted and puckered hand tips whiskey into his face. “Called a ‘bereavement fare,’ ” the hillbilly says.

Me looking at him, me half twisted in my seat to face him, my breathing slowed to match the rise and fall of his cowboy shirt, the technique’s called: Active Listening. The stranger clears his throat, and I wait a little and clear my throat, copying him; that’s what a good salesman means by “pacing” a customer.

My feet, crossed at the ankle, right foot over the left, same as his, I say: Impossible. Not even standby tickets go that cheap. I ask: How’d he get such a deal?

Drinking his whiskey, neat, he says, “First, what you have to do is escape from inside a locked insane asylum.” Then, he says, you have to hitchhike cross–country, wearing nothing but plastic booties and a paper getup that won’t stay shut in back. You need to arrive about a heartbeat too late to keep a repeat child–molester from raping your wife. And your mother. Spawned out of that rape, you have to raise up a son who collects a wagonful of folks’ old, thrown–out teeth. After high school, your wacko kid got’s to run off. Join some cult that lives only by night. Wreck his car, a half a hundred times, and hook up with some kind–of, sort–of, not–really prostitute.

Along the way, your kid got’s to spark a plague that’ll kill thousands of people, enough folks so that it leads to martial law and threatens to topple world leaders. And, lastly, your boy got’s to die in a big, flaming, fiery inferno, watched by everybody in the world with a television set.

He says, “Simple as that.”

The man says, “Then, when you go to collect his body for his funeral,” and tips whiskey into his mouth, “the airline gives you a special bargain price on your ticket.”

Fifty bucks, round–trip. He looks at my scotch sitting on the tray table in front of me. Warm. Any ice, gone. And he says, “You going to drink that?”

I tell him: Go ahead.

This is how fast your life can turn around.

How the future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday.

My dilemma is: Do I ask for his autograph? Slowing my breath, pacing my chest to his, I ask: Is he related to that guy…Rant Casey? “Werewolf Casey”—the worst Patient Zero in the history of disease? The “superspreader” who’s infected half the country? America’s “Kissing Killer”? Rant “Mad Dog” Casey?

“Buster,” the man says, his monster hand reaching to take my scotch. He says, “My boy’s given name was Buster Landru Casey. Not Rant. Not Buddy. Buster.”

Already, my eyes are soaking up every puckered scar on his fingers. Every wrinkle and gray hair. My nose, recording his smell of whiskey and cow shit. My elbow, recording the rub of his flannel shirtsleeve. Already, I’ll be bragging about this stranger for the rest of my life. Holding tight to every moment of him, squirreling away his every word and gesture, I say: You’re…

“Chester,” he says. “Name’s Chester Casey.”

Sitting right next to me. Chester Casey, the father of Rant Casey: America’s walking, talking Biological Weapon of Mass Destruction.

Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future, people won’t be famous for fifteen minutes. No, in the future, everyone will sit next to someone famous for at least fifteen minutes. Typhoid Mary or Ted Bundy or Sharon Tate. History is nothing except monsters or victims. Or witnesses.

So what do I say? I say: I’m sorry. I say, “Tough break about your kid dying.”

Out of sympathy, I shake my head…

And a few inhales later, Chet Casey shakes his head, and in that gesture I’m not sure who’s really pacing who. Which of us sat which way first. If maybe this shitkicker is studying me. Copying me. Finding my hot buttons and building rapport. Maybe selling me something, this living legend Chet Casey, he winks. Never breathing more than fifteen inhales any minute. He tosses back the scotch. “Any way you look at it,” he says, and elbows me in the ribs, “it’s still a damn sweet deal on an airplane ticket.”


2Guardian Angels


From the Field Notes of Green Taylor Simms (Historian): The hound dog is to Middleton what the cow is to the streets of Calcutta or New Delhi. In the middle of every dirt road sleeps some kind of mongrel coonhound, panting in the sun, its dripping tongue hanging out. A kind of fur–covered speed bump with no collar or tags. Powdered with a fine dust of clay blown off the plowed fields.
To arrive at Middleton requires four solid days of driving, which is the longest period of time I have ever experienced inside an automobile without colliding with another vehicle. I found that to be the most depressing aspect of my pilgrimages.

Neddy Nelson (Party Crasher): Can you explain how in 1968 the amateur paleontologist William Meister in Antelope Spring, Utah, split a block of shale while searching for trilobite fossils, but instead discovered the fossilized five–hundred–million–year–old footprint of a human shoe? And how did another fossilized shoe print, found in Nevada in 1922, occur in rock from the Triassic era?

Echo Lawrence (Party Crasher): Driving to Middleton, rolling across all that fucking country in the middle of the night, Shot Dunyun punched buttons, scanning the radio for traffic reports. To hear any action we’d be missing out on. Morning or evening drive–time bulletins from oceans away. Gridlock and traffic backups where it's still yesterday. Fatal pile–ups and jackknives on expressways where it’s already tomorrow.

It’s fucking weird, hearing somebody’s died tomorrow. Like you could still call that commuter man, right now, in Moscow, and say: “Stay home!”

From DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic: Expect a gapers’ delay if you're eastbound on the Meadows Bypass through the Richmond area. Slow down and stretch your neck for a good long look at a two–car fatal accident in the left-most lane. The front vehicle is a sea–green 1974 Plymouth Road Runner with a four–barrel carb–equipped 440–cubic–inch, cast–iron–block V8. Original ice–white interior. The coupe’s driver was a scorching twenty–four–year old female, blonde–slash–green with a textbook fracture–slash–dislocation of her spine at the atlantooccipital joint and complete transection of the spinal cord. Fancy words for whiplash so bad it snaps your neck.

The rear car was a bitchin’ two–door hardtop New Yorker Brougham St. Regis, cream color, with the optional deluxe chrome package and fixed rear quarter–windows. A sweet ride. As you rubberneck past, please note the driver was a twenty–six–year–old male with a nothing–special transverse fracture of the sternum, bilateral rib fractures, and his lungs impaled by the fractured ribs, all due to impact with his steering wheel. Plus, the boys in the meat wagon tell me, severe internal exsanguination.

So—buckle up and slow down. Reporting for Graphic Traffic, this is Tina Something…

Echo Lawrence: We broke curfew and the government quarantine, and we drove across these stretches of nothing. Me, riding shotgun. Shot Dunyun, driving. Neddy Nelson was in the backseat, reading some book and telling us how Jack the Ripper never died—he traveled back in time to slaughter his mom, to make himself immortal—and now he's the U.S. President or the Pope. Maybe some crackpot theory proving how UFOs are really human tourists visiting us from the distant future.

Shot Dunyun (Party Crasher): I guess we drove to Middleton to see all the places Rant had talked about and meet what he called “his people.” His parents, Irene and Chester. The best friend, Bodie Carlyle, he went to school with. All the dipshit farm families, the Perrys and Tommys and Elliots, he used to go on and on talking about. Most of Party Crashing was just us driving in cars, talking.

Such a cast of yokels. Our goal was to flesh out the stories Rant had told. How weird is that? Me and Echo Lawrence, with Neddy in the backseat of that Cadillac Eldorado of his. The car that Rant had bought for Neddy.

Yeah, and we went to put flowers and stuff on Rant’s grave.

Echo Lawrence: Punching the radio, Shot says, “You know we’re missing a good Soccer Mom Night …”

“Not tonight,” says Neddy. “Check your calendar. Tonight was a Student Driver Night.”

Shot Dunyun: Up ahead, a sliver of light outlines the horizon. The sliver swells to a bulge of white light, a half–circle, then a full circle. A full moon. Tonight we’re missing a great Honeymoon Night.

Echo Lawrence: We told each other stories instead of playing music. The stories Rant had told, about his growing up. The stories about Rant, we had to piece them together out of details we each had to dig up from the basement of the basement of the basement of our brains. Everyone pitching in some memory of Rant, we drove along, pooling our stories.

Shot Dunyun: The local Middleton sheriff stopped us, and we told him the truth: We were making a pilgrimage to see where Rant Casey had been born.

A night like this with everybody in town asleep, the little Rant Casey would be ham–radioing. Wearing his headphones. As a kid, a night like this, Rant used to turn the dial, looking for traffic reports from Los Angeles and New York. Listening to traffic jams and tie–ups in London. Slowdowns in Atlanta. Three–car pile–ups in Paris, reported in French. Learning Spanish in terms of neumatico desinflado and punto muerto. Flat tires and gridlock in Madrid. Imbottigliamento, for gridlock in Rome. Het roosterslot, gridlock in Amsterdam. Saturation, gridlock in Paris. The whole invisible world of the traffic sphere.

Echo Lawrence: Come on. Driving around any hillbilly burg between midnight and sunrise, you take your chances. The police don’t have much to do but blare their siren at you. The Middleton sheriff held our driver’s licenses in the beam of his flashlight while he lectured us about the city. How Rant Casey had been killed by moving to the city. City people were all murderers. Meaning us.

This sheriff was boosting some kind of Texas Ranger affect, plugged into and looping some John Wayne brain chemistry. Boost a drill sergeant through a hanging judge, then boost that through a Doberman pinscher, and you’d get this sheriff. His shoulders stayed pinned back, square. His thumbs hooked behind his belt buckle. And he rocked forward and back on the heels of his cowboy boots.

Shot asked, “Has anybody been by to murder Rant’s mom yet?”

This sheriff wore a brown shirt with a brass star pinned to one chest pocket, a pen and a folded pair of sunglasses tucked in the pocket, and the shirt tucked into blue jeans. Engraved on the star, it said “Officer Bacon Carlyle.”

Come on. Talk about the worst question Shot could ask.

Neddy Nelson: You tell me, how in 1844 did the physicist Sir David Brewster discover a metal nail fully embedded in a block of Devonian sandstone more than three hundred million years old?


From the Hardcover edition.

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Rant 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 296 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Other reviewers say that if you like Palahniuk you will love this book. I could not disagree more. This book is just a recycled 'Fight Club'. Let's review. We are shaped by our families, culture and the media. If we do not understand that then we are leading someone else's life. If we do see through that veil we can follow our own true path within our society. Or we can Chuck the whole thing and realise we are just clever animals. We can take the idea that life is 'nasty, brutish and short' to its extreme conclusion. Your garden variety rebel distills life to sex and drugs and rock and roll. Your true rebel distills life to sex and destruction and rant and rage. The trap is that for every authentic anti-hero, like Tyler Durden or Rant Casey, there is a pathetic cast of wannabes ironically trying to live someone else's life. This book would have been OK if 'Fight Club' had not been written first. Chuck Palahniuk rages against the tame homogenized life so many of us live. I think that puts a greater burden on him not to recycle his earlier successes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an exceptional read. All of these very bad reviews must have been because they did not understand the work, or they just want a simple narrative that gives you a generic story. And this book is not even close to being Fight Club. It requires much more thinking, and is much more complex than Fight Club. This is a book that gets better every time you read it as well. I'm beginning to think some people that read this book has no clue what it is about!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Palahniuk's books. I give them to everyone after reading. I wanted to throw this one in the garbage after reading. It is as interesting as all the rest of the books until the last few pages. It's as if Chuck was simply tired of writing the story and finished it at 9am before a 10am deadline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a big disappointment. I am a huge fan of Chuck and this was totally not what I expected from him. It's very repetitive and all the important information about the main character is in the first few pages. Nothing new about him is discovered throughout the rest of the book. If you're into bad books, be my guest but if you're looking for a good read or am a fan of Chuck's, please spare yourself the disappointment and wasting money.
Djupstrom on LibraryThing 24 days ago
YUCK! I like Chuck Palahniuk's other novels that I have read (even though I have no idea how to pronounce his name). He is typically gross, vulgar, and out there. This was all of the above, but I didn't care about any of the characters, and it was written in a very odd format. Skip this one.
francomega on LibraryThing 24 days ago
It took me a while to get into the narrative style--the whole book is told in a series of first-person accounts and anecdotes--none of which are the main character, Rant. As always, a lot of fun, imaginative ideas from Chuck. The end was a bit of a stretch, though.
ngeunit1 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I really enjoyed Rant a lot. I thought it was weird and different, but it really came together so well at the end. It is a bit difficult to really explain what I loved about the book without spoiling the plot a bit so I will do my best in that aspect. The book itself had some really interesting themes that were present. The main idea, kind of brought up pretty much from the opening scene, is that everybody views people in different ways. That these views can actually cause a single person to almost have an entirely different view of the same person that it is surprising that it is actually in fact the same person. And that we can make sure to act a particular way to influence the way we interact and are viewed by others. This is really taken to many levels in the novel from looking at it from perspectives of family members, friends, and community members. The story of the novel here is in my opinion well written. It keeps the reader interested without giving up too much and really pays off towards the end when a lot of the elements in the story really start to connect and it turns into a really satisfying experience. It is especially interesting if you take a step back at the end and just try to draw a mental timeline of the characters and the relationships in the novel. It becomes fascinating at this point to think about who is actaully influencing who and the cause of many of the major events in the novel. I also like the use of some random titles that you learn mean very different things then they first seem to mean, like the distinction of "historian" in the context of the story. There was actually not very much that I disliked about this novel. I though the pacing was right throughout the book, and the characters really felt like they had purpose and direction and developed in the story.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Anarchist-redneck hydrophobe + car crash junkies + paradox denying time travel + oral history format = most convoluted idea for a book ever. I love it when terrible ideas turn out well. This book took a good bit of time after reading to digest what had just happened. Very entertaining.
lesleydawn on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I liked this book, but to describe what it is about would be impossible. It is about family, car crashes, rabies, time travel . . . and so much more. An interesting read.
M.Campanella on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I might give something away here in terms of story. You have been warned.I did not particularly care for this book. And yet, I keep coming back to it.The story begins in a certain fashion, and goes pretty strong in that direction for about half the book. Then, the book turns a corner. This happens somewhat sloppily, and left me with the feeling that the author had no idea where to take the first story he was writing. He ran out of consistent plot, so he just threw the mother of all Monkey Wrenches into it, made it divert into a new field entirely. He made it bad science fiction. Despite this, a single pearl can be found here.In all Science Fiction, at some point the author must explain to us a few things about the world he is writing. He has to explain to us how it differs from our world, normally in some piece of technology that allows for some greater plot function.Here, Palahniuk handles that bit, which is normally the absolute worst part of any science fiction novel, with an incredible mastery. The trick was to introduce the bit of tech through the back story of a certain character.As a stand alone short story, I would be applauding it till day's end.Here, it was simply the only note worthy part of a longer book I can only vaguely remember.
TybaltCapulet on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Palahniuk's best book in recent years.The character's are interestingly bizarre, and the story is completely messed up. It's like a return to the styling of Fight Club and Survivor.Definitely a must-read for fans of his.
trinityM82 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Amazing. Chuck combines the idea of time travel with an alternate reality as a comment on today's politics of keeping the disenfranchished out of power and those with the power in. It's an "Oral biography of Rant Casey" and treats it's subject like the harbinger of the plague that will bring the human race to it's knees this century and also the savior of the species.
DanaJean on LibraryThing 26 days ago
WTF? I think this was my first Chuck book. I'm debating whether or not it will be my last. Interesting take on the serial killer genre for sure, this story was such a mishmash of things. For a while I felt like I was dumped right in the middle of an encyclopedia--yammering on and on about rabies, coin collecting, demolition derby (which are all key elements to the story but didn't need to be beat to death). Thank God I listened to this on CD as the varied voice artists really kept me engaged in the story. The writing was unbelievably sharp mechanics-wise. A+ on the wow factor with his very descriptive voice; but the story was too disjointed. I did like the differing viewpoints each of the characters brought to the table about the same person or incident. But, if you are wanting a smooth flowing story that makes sense all along the way, this may not be the book for you. Sometimes things don't make sense until many CD's later --which translates to many, many pages later. For those of you having trouble with this one, the unabridged CD may be just the thing to help you through. Kudos to all the readers--they did a super job.Okay. I've decided I'm going to try Chuck again. Maybe this wasn't the right story for me at this time to appreciate his interesting style. I don't mind the odd and quirky--and I'm not squeamish--in fact, I love when a creative person challenges and pushes boundaries. This just rang the boring bell for me too early in and I couldn't get re-engaged. I'm giving him 2 1/2 stars for the way he painted his word pictures. Vivid, sharp and in your face. But, again, the story? I wish I would have contracted rabies before I listened to it--it would probably have been much more interesting had I been mad, drooling and a bit bitey.
rocketjk on LibraryThing 26 days ago
A fun, strange, imaginative wholly enjoyable science fictionish black comedy that becomes stranger and more surreal as you go along and the deeper levels of Palahniuk's concept are revealed. There are some extremely memorable characters here and I fairly raced though this. The ending, while entirely fitting, did not quite live up to the quality of the rest of the book, but it wasn't the sort of drop off that diminishes enjoyment. Very cool stuff.
lildrafire on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Rabies, demolition style races, graphic sex and time travel are all included in Palahniuk's Rant. This novel is not written in the traditional way, but is a collection of interviews from the people involved, so you get many different perceptions of the same event. I'll admit it was an awkward read, but it was a good read. I would have preferred Palahniuk not stray from his writing style, but this was a decent endeavor on something new and fresh. Great character development, as always.
revslick on LibraryThing 26 days ago
If you loved Fight Club and want more of the same look no further here comes more shock and shlock. I have to give kudos to Chuck for mixing a tired scifi tale with some shock and awe mystery to twist things up and telling it feels like reality show interviews. While the innovation and creativity is to applauded the tale itself is forced and tiring. Just like Fight Club there are some great one liners, but there's not enough to save it in the end.I had trouble getting into the written book, but Audible has a recording that is a veritable listening feast with the number of readers. Personally, I give the audible version a 3 but the tale itself barely makes a 2.5.
cottongirl7 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Rant is a very clever book full of odd mental pictures. I've found most of Chucks books leave you with at least one if not more haunting images that pop out of your head a different times in your life. From rabbies to razor blades this book takes you on an unlikely adventure full of car accidents and deep dark holes. Palahniuk has a way with words and this book is no exception. It is told in an interesting style through the words and eyes of many characters. I enjoyed it greatly, as I have most of his work. If your looking for something a little out of the norm with alot of punch for a rather short book, check it out.
SirRoger on LibraryThing 26 days ago
True to Palahniuk form, this novel winds along it's merry/weird little way, and about a third of the way in, it totally throws you for a loop. And yet again before the book ends. He really knows how to surprise you. Recommended for fans of Palahniuk, but not for those who prefer to steer clear of strong language and subject matter.
emma_mc on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Absolutely mind-blowing. I feel like I need to reread it to comprehend it. Amazing, dark, gritty, and at times hard to swallow... but incredible.
Crankpaw on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Tampons and condoms on barb wire fences ha! A little implausable method of time travel but suspend disbelief and enjoy this crazy tale of time traveling incest. Awesome demento.
leFroo on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I've been a huge fan of Palahniuk's for years. But, I think...of late, it seems that he's pushing boundaries of what's "normal" by throwing a lot of stuff at the reader so that he or she can have one of those knee-jerk "that's so gross" or "that's so wild" reactions. I appreciate Chuck for who he is: a great storyteller of odd, eccentric personalities mixed with a little sci-fi/sci-fact. This book lacks a real story though it's got a DIVINE literary device telling the story (the oral biography dialogue is KILLER) but there's just too much that...just is for the sake of being weird...and I wish that hadn't been the case
TBRetc on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Que? I want to like Chuck Palahniuk's work. I really do. This was just too out there for me. While I understood most of what was going on, I found my mind wandering and often times coming back to a page and having no idea what he was talking about. Even after reading, I'm still not sure I followed. I've also tried Haunted, and started Choke but couldn't finish. I dont think this genre (dark? complex? disgusting?) is for me.
elliepotten on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I've never read Palahniuk before, and although everyone raves about Fight Club, in particular, I wasn't really sure his famously oddball style would be 'my kind of thing'. Happily, Rant turned out to be EXACTLY my kind of thing, which is why this review has taken so long to write. It's always hardest to review the books we've loved most, isn't it?I won't say too much about the plot, partly because there isn't one per se, and partly because I think this is really one those books that needs to be read WITHOUT knowing everything about it. That way the reader can work things out for themselves and be swept along by the narrative without any preconceptions and erroneous ideas ruining the fun. On the surface this is just what the name suggests: a fictional oral biography of a strange young man called Rant Casey, who has odd abilities, bizarre habits, and dangerous vices that include 'Party Crashing' - driving around at night in a kind of giant crazy game of dodgems - and being bitten by all kinds of venomous and diseased creatures.But although Rant is at the centre of the novel, and everything ultimately returns to him, this is an incredibly reductive view of Palahniuk's vision. It is also very much about the way society works and about the people in Rant's life over the years. It is only as the book unfolds that you come to realise that Rant's America isn't the same as ours; it's a futuristic place with advanced media technology, and a society segregated into Daytimers and Nighttimers in an attempt to deal with overpopulation and road congestion. As these things are explained by the various 'contributors' to Rant's biography, the book becomes almost like a fascinating non-fiction at times, kept manageable and well-paced by the broken-up oral-biography format. This really is an incredible book. It has the energy of a Baz Lurhmann movie and the no-nonsense brutality of Quentin Tarantino's finest, all rolled into one. I don't think I've ever read a book that feels so immediate and ALIVE. It bristles with energy, like electricity sparking off the page. As I turned the pages, I felt like I was in the hands of an expert manipulator; the building clues about Rant, about the new society, were all there, but I felt like I was working things out and getting little light-bulb moments EXACTLY when Palahniuk wanted me to. Whatever he wanted me to feel - nauseated, tender, intrigued, repulsed - I did. Even when I wasn't sure what was happening or where things were going, I felt 'safe' enough to accept it and carry on. Like the Nighttimers' Party Crashing culture, I just held on tight and went along for the ride - and what a ride it was!Rant definitely isn't going to be for everyone - there are some pretty extreme and unsettling moments thrown in along the way - but if you dare to dive in and go with it, you will find a novel that is simultaneously philosophical, amusing, disgusting, exciting, thoughtful, sensual, perplexing, shocking, stimulating and utterly brilliant. Palahniuk throws out a continuous stream of ideas and observations, skewed through the different characters that make up the 'biography' and through the vaguely dystopian perspective. I'm still thinking about it now, a couple of weeks later, asking questions and trying to work it out in my mind all over again. Needless to say, I won't hesitate to read more Palahniuk now I've started.
itpdx on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Chuck Palahniuk has a very strange mind. This book made me laugh, it enlightened me, it confused me and made me very glad my children are grown so I don't have to figure out what to tell them about Santa and the tooth fairy!
drneutron on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I have to say I didn't like this book. I just didn't get into the characters at all. I was stuck on an airplane for a few hours, as I often am, and this was the only book with me that I hadn't read. I gave up about 30% of the way in and watched the movie...