Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cannonball Read 2 #29: Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

I have always enjoyed Chuck Palahniuk's work, so I'm not sure I can really give an objective opinion on this book. Then again, I don't think an objective opinion of his work is really possible--it seems that people either love him or hate him (and most people know which category they fall into before even finishing one of his books.) If his weird, clipped, style that starts out odd and then continues to spiral out into complete insanity is for you (as it is for me) then you are willing to follow him wherever he decides to go. If you're not a fan, his outlandish and in-your-face books are gratuitous and obnoxious and completely nonsensical.

Rant is the tale of Buster Casey--a young man raised in a small town, whose favorite pastimes included sniffing sanitary waste, sticking boogers to his wall, and being bitten by dangerous creatures. He goes on to move to the city, where his behavior starts a snowballing disaster...culminating in a world-wide plague of rabies and city wide quarantines.

The fascinating thing about this work is that it's set up as an oral history--the entire story fashioned out of snippets of "interviews" with people who knew Rant. At the time the book is written, Rant is ostensibly deceased, so we never hear his version of events--only the views of his family, friends, acquaintances, various "experts," philosophers, scientists, and average citizens. It's an interesting way to portray a character--always from the point of view of other people. Plus, it allows a certain amount of leeway as to the events described--most of Palahniuk's books are written in first person, so he's limited to what the narrator sees and knows--here he is at liberty to bring in characters who will know every aspect of a situation.

The plot, once again, begins normally enough and then somehow rockets its way off into a land of intentional car wrecks, murder, and time travel (because, of course, time travel!) For those who prefer their literature to be more "realistic," this book (like all of Palahniuk's work, really) is NOT RECOMMENDED. However, for those whose view of reality has a little more wiggle room, I though this was tremendous.

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