Chuck Palahniuk is, of course, best known for Fight Club
, a remarkable novel which gave rise to an equally remarkable movie. As a writer, his specialty has been in having no speciality -- other than that of refusing to conform to any expectations readers might have of him. Except in one regard: a book by Palahniuk will be edgy, dark and iconoclastic. Which is very much the case with Rant, The Oral History of Buster Casey
. This is a novel that leaves the reader notably off-kilter for a number of reasons; its coal-black vision of a society in a state of near savagery and its sardonically funny approach to the scabrous narrative. The Oral History here relates to Buster Rant Casey -- and the picture we receive of him is conveyed through a motley group of enemies, friends, relations and sexual partners. Through their wildly differing accounts, we build up a picture of a very unusual man indeed: a charismatic, sinister figure with a predilection for one recreational drug (the main component of which is rabies, no less). His other substance-of-choice (in terms of highly dangerous stimulants) is the venom of a black widow spider (for its aphrodisiac qualities). Living in a small town which is barely civilised (and the passages relating to this bizarre locale are conveyed in Palahniuks most phantasmagorical writing), Rant opts to strike out for the big town, and quickly establishes himself at the head honcho of an urban demolition derby which goes by the name of Party Crashing. The group, on selected nights, conducts a demented game of lethal dodgems, seeking out each other in cars to bring about satisfying motorway mayhem. And in the midst of this madness, Rant, a truly toxic figure, is spreading a variety of very nasty things among those he encounters.
This is nothing less than a vision of society plunged into insanity, with every comforting conventional aspect ruthlessly torn away. It's futuristic, it's very dark, and it's very funny. And (as the foregoing might suggest) it is most definitely not for those who like their literature sedate and unshocking. And in that way, of course, it's a typical Chuck Palahniuk novel. --Barry Forshaw
--This text refers to the
'Something much more interesting' -- Independent
"a rollicking good read" -- The Word, April 2007
'An important writer with a huge popular following... I'm glad he
continues to bring us these American visions of Hell' -- Independent on Sunday
'Bob Flynn interviews Chuck Palahniuk.'
'Palahniuk is a master of feeding his readers information subtly,
cleverly, so they slowly realise what is going on' -- The Herald - Rev'd Rodge Glass
'Palahniuk writes brilliantly hectoring novels that pulverise
anodyne, consumer-led modern life.' -- Sunday Telegraph - Rev'd Alastair Sooke
'Palahnuik's world might be a freakshow, but it's one that makes a
disturbing amount of sense' -- Daily Telegraph - Rev'd Robert Colville
`A new Chuck's always worth throwing yourself into.'
-- Daily Echo: Rev'd Ed Perkins
`A twisted paranoid version of our world...taboo-breaking and
imaginative riffs...presents something that we all yearn for' -- Financial Times
`Fast and true, savagely clear-sighted and intelligent, a luxury
to read, and so funny that your facial muscles soon tire...' -- The Guardian