The Bookshelf: Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk


Most people will recognize Chuck Palahniuk as the author of 1996’s Fight Club.  He is both lauded and abhorred in equal measure for either being considered a provocateur or juvenile… or an author pushing the boundaries of fiction with his particular blend of science fiction/horror/social commentary.  I have enjoyed many of his works… but none more so than 2007’s Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey.

The structure of the novel is that of snippets of interviews with people who knew the now deceased Buster “Rant” Casey.  Every character is used to fill in the story in flashback as well as to slowly bring you into the world of this near future… a world that is divided into nightwalkers and daywalkers… and no, there is nothing vampiric or lycanthropic about any of this… just the possibility of time travel adied and abetted by rabies.  Make sense?  It shouldn’t… but it will… sort of.

The novel is at times shocking and disgusting… and yet manages a particular sweetness that has honestly stuck with me through three readings over the years.  Although, there is actually nothing sweet about it, there are relationships formed and over time I found myself invested in the characters… invested in figuring out what the hell is going on… and for all it’s flaws, I found myself twisting my head around trying to understand both the story and the point.

This world in which they live in involves a “game” called “party crashing”… basically driving around in a decorated car, such as one gussied up for a wedding with the participants dressed in tuxedos and bridal gowns and crashing into one another.  Reading that last sentence gives me a bit of a headache… makes so little sense… yet, the book fleshes this out as being incredibly critical to the novel’s premise.  Not to mention some rather odd quirks to both Rant himself, his family and his friends. 

Rant has a heightened sense of smell for one… his mother cooks food with small metal shards for another… and he is visited by a crazy old guy claiming to be him for yet another non sequiter that in the end comes together to form one hell of an interesting read.  I won’t claim that this is a novel for everyone… but if your tastes happen to run a bit dark and twisted, I would happily recommend it.  If you enjoyed Fight Club, chances are good you will enjoy Rant.

Hoping I didn’t give too many spoilers,
Cornelius J. Blahg

2 thoughts

  1. His books are totally hit or miss… His last three left me a bit cold, but I credit him with at least offering something original. As to whether or not it always works is another question altogether. But weird? For sure…

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