Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's four years from the first time I read this book and I realize that if you're going to read a Chuck P. book, you really need to read it, absorb it, experience it. I was only into it with half my attention the first time and missed a lot, including some key plot points.
This time, it took me awhile to finish it because I'm only reading intermittently these days, but I made a point to focus when I did read it. This time around, it gets 5 stars all the way.
Buster Casey, aka, Rant is an exceptional but dangerous boy growing up in a small town with his mother, a woman who puts sharp metal objects in her food to make people eat slowly and enjoy it, and his father, who cryptically insinuates that he's not actually Rant's father and seems to know more about Rant's future than seems possible.
Rant also shows some strange abilities, like the power to tell what someone had for dinner two nights prior simply by smelling them (okay, it's a little more graphic than that, but you'll have to read the book to find that out). He also shows an affinity for being bit by poisonous and rabid animals.
When Rant moves to the city, what starts out as a story about a quaint small town and its black sheep turns into something completely different: a tale that takes place in an alternate universe where society is split into those who live during the day and those who live at night and people boost sensory experiences through ports in the back of their neck.
In the city, Rant meets up with a crew of "Party Crashers." Party Crashing is the favorite pasttime of Nighttimers and involves decorating cars and playing a large organized game of road tag with other teams. It's these fellow crashers, childhood friends and neighbors, family, and the people Rant has come in contact with or made an impression on that all tell his story in oral biography format.
It's hard to read this story as a coherent beginning to end novel because it's not. It's more like a documentary in which several anecdotes come together to tell a story and eventually end in an unforeseen climax. The characters speak in different voices, yet all voices are definitely Palahniuk's and characteristic of the voice used in his other novels. The pacing is quick, the factoids are fun, and the ending doesn't disappoint.
Reading this book again kicks off one of my Day Zero things to do, and that's to read all of this author's books again. I recommend this to anyone looking for something they can sink their mind into.
It actually took me a little while to get into this book. I'm a fan of Palahniuk but this one seemed a little slow to me. Told not by the main character but by those who knew him before his death, this truly is an "oral biography." The point of view constantly switches but once you get the hang of it, it's a fun way to read.
Like many of his books, this one takes bizarre to a whole new level. It's hard to really talk about anything that happens for fear of giving something away. To sum up, Rant lives in a world where rabies runs rampant, the new high is an experience "boost" through ports in the back of people's necks, and the big recreation game is Party Crashing, which involves complex tag games with cars.
Once I got into it, I couldn't put this book down. The premise is great, the writing is great, and the end...like all of his books I've read so far...is mind blowing.
View all my reviews