Title: Rant- An Oral Biography of Buster Casey
Page Count: 319
Author: Chuck Palahniuk (A)
This book fucking rocks. Read it right the fuck now.
Okay, now that that is out of the way.
When I picked up Rant, I knew nothing about Palahniuk. I didn’t know he’d written Fight Club. I had no previous experience with his work at all. This is to assure you that I’m not a Palahniuk fangirl, though admittedly I might be now. What attracted me to Rant was the edition’s cover design by Michael Collica, which featured a lot of muscle and vein imagery and a black and gold side title. After I read the first few lines, I decided it was coming home with me.
Trying to explain Rant’s summary would be a little like trying to explain my life story to you as the airplane we are in is showing off its midair acrobatic skills while bringing us steadily closer to a fiery, news-worthy death. Suffice to say that the title character- Buster “Rant” Casey- is the lynchpin for a series of connected stories, legends, fables and diatribes, all of which are explored after his impressive and rather sudden death by flaming Cadillac.
Have I got you yet?
Since I was a Palahniuk virgin, I can say point blank that Rant had its minor flaws. The first section bored me. The first lines? amazing. But these first pages you have to chug through. Trust me, it’s worth it. Once you pass page six, buckle in. It’s going to be a fantastically bumpy ride.
The book has its slow points. Since it is written in the style of a biography put together through oral testimony, there are a lot of voices you have to remember. Don’t be ashamed if you find yourself skipping back a few pages to see if the voice you’re hearing matches the one you remember hearing at the beginning of the chapter. Palahniuk does very well in giving each witness a distinct voice. A couple of times the characters are lost, but you can easily find them again. You can even cheat and skip to the back, where there are small ‘where are they now’s on (almost) every person in the book.
In order to truely enjoy Rant, you must fall in love with Buster Casey. He is the Paul Bunyan, the Jesus, the Charles Manson, the Princess Diana. I found it easy to love Rant, easier still to enjoy that what might have been his true nature was obscured by friends, enemies, and people who didn’t know him at all. Palanhiuk runs on the assumption that his audience is smart enough to put together the pieces of the puzzle he is laying out. This puzzle, of course, is Rant- and while it’s not so complicated a puzzle as you might imagine, the process of finding the pieces is made enjoyable by the commitment to entertainment.
Rant could easily be a dry as hell attempt at presenting some of society’s major problems by using a mouthpiece. Rant Casey is no mouthpiece. His actions, his words (whether authentic or fabricated) and his view on the world carry the book from beginning to end with almost no faults. Rant won’t drop you. He’ll pull up to the curb, invite you into the car, and then break the speed limit while pulling your every intimate secret from you.In the end, you’ll thank him for it.
I could get into symbolism and allegory. The book is chock full of good stuff that you could put into any compartive thesis. Don’t think that hard about it. Rant’s power is in its subversive nature, which could very well be a hallmark of a Palahniuk novel. You close after the final few words, think whatever you will, and go about your day. Inevitably, you will come back. Whether it is actually rereading parts of the book or just sitting at your kitchen table thinking about it, Rant will not let you be. The hooks are in deep. Don’t worry, they’re good hooks.
Rant is as entertaining as it is smart, which is important to me as a reader. Remember how I said it could have been dry? If Rant Casey had been too allegorical, too christlike or satanic or parroty, then I would not have enjoyed the novel half as much as I did. Palahniuk does what all writers want to do and few claim to be able to do: he wrote you up a human. A flawed, beautiful man whose actions, for good or for bad, influenced those around him as we influence those around us. Taken to his exteme, Rant Casey is neither a sinner or saint. He is chaotic neutral. Like all of us.
And come on- who wouldn’t want to go out in a Cadillac?