Review: In his latest book release, cult novelist and grotesque-genre auteur Chuck Palahniuk delivers seditious imagery and profound awe in an unusually structured narrative. “Rant” unfolds the outlandish life of Buster “Rant” Casey, but with little input by the main hero (or villain, relative to whom is asked). Collected testimonies from Rant’s surviving group of friends are how the biographical history is told.
Ultimately, all biographical information contributed by the characters attempts to answer how a single man left such a gaping void in society.
Anybody who is familiar with the contemporary style of Palahniuk already knows of the rhetorical “over-the-top” strategy of excessiveness that so effectively rouses the reader and articulates how perfectly idiotic cultural myths can be.
Praise: Too many elements to name here. However, one accomplishment of the unusual oral form is that it allows the fiction to become more factual; disguised as nonfiction, the plot becomes dangerously believable. Like H.G. Wells’ infamous radio broadcast of an overly embellished fairy tale, Palahniuk combines the oral interviews and field notes of traffic reports, historians, epidemiologists, proprietors, club dancers etc. that coalesce into a tenderly “real” fairy tale.
Criticism: I’m familiar with Palahniuk’s other novels, so I expected contrived plot twists and shocking reactions via exploitation of sheer spectacle; this book is recommended for surefire fans of cult modern writing styles, but this book probably won’t recruit new fans. Also, with dozens of different character contributions I was hoping the language and voice would vary (for character accuracy); the various can sometimes make characters sound similar and it creates a flat blanket of peons instead of developed characters.
Bottom Line: Structurally, plot-wise and thematically, it broke loose from anything else I’ve ever read. If you like satire or spectacle, you must read this carnival-esque prose version of a mockumentary.
Staff writer Griffin Faust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.