Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

Alex V. Cook's review
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This is, I think, the third book I've read by Chuck Palahniuk but its hard to tell, since the stories all run the same track. He is all about the trans-dimensionalty of life, how belief (Fight Club), mutation (Lullaby) and social order (this one) are either the ties that bind us to the tracks or, when loosened, allow us to reach liftoff. I might be reading too much into the odd cover design here, but I thought this book was Choke until I got it home from the library, because the cover looks similar and the spine bears the author's name in large letters, but the title is actually hidden under the dust jacket. Perhaps this is slyly saying that Palahniuk is more like a brand than an author; whichever one of his books you get will offer a variant on the same pleasures.

I like the style of the book, written in Plimpton-esque cubist viewpoints all about a special kid named Rant who we never hear from directly. He gets into a very cool rhythm in the later chapters, playing two story lines at once in alternating accounts in dexterous counterpoint.

The problem is that the book is difficult to follow. It starts off a rural fantasy about a kid who contracts rabies and shifts later to becoming a William Gibson urban dystopia of people segregated into day and night people and a nihilistic pastime involving car crashes and virtual reality. It ties itself up with some even less-believable cords, slowly woven throughout the book. It is definitely interesting and inventive fiction, but at times, it felt like I was watching a movie that I had unwittingly fell asleep during, wondering where those characters came from and what the hell is going on.

x-posted at goodreads

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