Palahniuk – Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

1 Feb

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk (2007)

I fee like an jerkoff just writing this review.  Yes, it’s come time to review a Palahniuk novel…

**Aside: Remember Fight Club??  Remember 1oth grade when the movie came out on DVD and found its way into the hands of manboys across the nation excited by violence, an occasional boob (sorry, girls) and a sweet soundtrack (that may or may not have discovered Pixies and Massive Attack for you)?  Remember finding out a year and a half later that it was a book, reading it in a day and then talking to other people who had read the book and were fascinated that you read books too?  “Did you like the book better than the movie?”  “I dunno…both were pretty sweet.  You wanna go drink a beer at my parents’ house on lunch?”  I did like Fight Club (both the film and the novel) and still do, but for me Palahniuk has this inescapable air of high school era pretension.  When I hear people praise him as the man to walk in Kurt Vonnegut’s shoes, I just get pissed off.  I can’t write him off because Rant is only the second Palahniuk novel that I’ve read.**

A Rant: A Transcribed Oral Review of How Rant is a Rough Draft-Quality Ram-Jam of Three Potentially Compelling Novels That Have No Business Being Told in the Style of an Oral Biography

The Self-Hating Hipster ( Hipster)

The reader is told on the first page of Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey that the main character, Buster “Rant” Casey, is already dead.  His life story will be revealed to the reader in blurbs from contributors ranging from his family and friends to a car salesman that met his father on a flight to his son’s services (our first contributor).  At first the whole oral biography thing feels inventive and fun, but a third of the way through the novel it proves to be more of a forced device for an “inventive novel.”  There is enough confusion in the novel that the reader does not have to worry about the expository credibility of all of its contributors.

What Rant could/should have been:

1.  A dark comedy about the life of a warped, hayseed anti-hero that turns into the world’s most infamous serial killer by the spread of rabies.  Society wants to put him down, but he develops an underground following of spit-chasers.

2.  A social commentary about a metropolitan dystopia where civilizations are split into Day-Timers and Night-Timers: conservative Day-Timers are 9-5’ers in the truest sense, liberal Night-Timers who use “living vicariously” as a drug via “boosting,” and the inevitable clash between the two.

SEMI-SPOILER…skip 3 if you don’t want anything ruined.

3.  A sci-fi story involving time travel that allows a group of semi-Terminator (I’m my own daddy!) self-chosen ones to accumulate wealth and power over generations of inbreeding in order to corruptly “buy” themselves into a Nirvana of sorts.

Not all three.

And, Palahniuk…if you do want to pick up Vonnegut’s dark humor/sci-fi torch and run with it, let’s try to limit the grotesque soiled maxi pad fences and crotch-sniffing to how the * looks like you know what.

Rant is brimming with interesting ideas and concepts, but it is presented in such a needlessly convoluted mish-mash that I can’t say that it is anything more than average.

Rating: **1/2

What is his best novel outside of Fight Club so I can decide how I really feel about this guy?

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One Response to “Palahniuk – Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey”

  1. Kristel February 2, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    Hmm, I actually liked Rant quite a lot. I found the “grit” of it — the cringe-worthy foulness of it–reminiscent of Palahniuk’s swoon-worthy short: “Guts”. 🙂 Of course, you’re right in saying that Chuck Palahniuk is no Kurt Vonnegut–but Palahniuk definitely brings something new to the table. Maybe it’s a matter of preference, but I like the grit. Either way, you might like his other books too. I liked “Choke”, “Lullaby”, “Diary”, “Survivor”, and “Snuff”. “Tell All” and “Pygmy”, not too much.

    Also, a link to Guts — http://chuckpalahniuk.net/features/shorts/guts

    I called it swoon-worthy since over a dozen people have fainted during Palahniuk’s readings. 🙂

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