12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2007
Initially I wasn't sure about the style of Palahniuk's new book. As an oral history, it pieces together some urban folklore style reminisces about the main character, Rant Casey. However, as the book progresses, the connections between people become more apparent. It follows similar ground, socio-politically to Fight Club & Survivor. The urban games part of the book reminds me of the Santa Rampage in Fugitives & Refugees.
The book does lose its way when it starts to imply a life of Matrix style plug-ins, draconian curfews and conflict between daytime and night time peoples.
However, Palahniuk as usual digs up some fascinating historical parallels to his main story lines and on the whole the new style of writing works.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
Palahnuik takes us to the world of Daytimers and Nighttimers, where the Nightimers spend their evenings engaged in Party Crashing and where Porting has replaced other forms of media.
But the world isn't important, Buster Casey is, and to quote one of the characters - he's, `... the worst Patient Zero in the history of disease'.
Rant Casey carries rabies, but not only carries it, but infects himself and others around him with it again and again. And in doing so becomes a legend, a fable, that spreads much like the rabies he carries from person to person and Rant's oral history is retold through a series of interviews all used to help to explain the bigger picture.
The interview technique is a bit complicated as hearing different points of view and perspectives from several people takes some concentration. Luckily all of the interviewees are named and on their first appearance in each chapter we are told (or retold) a bit more about them like if they are a Party Crasher, Historian, or Mother. You get to know more about some those that were close to Rant and as well as his story as the book progresses. And the in some ways the other people are more interesting than Rant himself.
Palahnuik is an excellent storyteller as he uses this book to explore the spiderwebs of connections that each person has around them. There are no minor characters here. Each has an important role in moving the story forward and in revealing the connections that aren't so obvious as they first appear.
This book is also a tale about the lies we tell ourselves like the tooth fairy who, as you grow up, replaces your useless tooth with money and to Buster Casey teeth are very valuable indeed. Or that if you're wearing a wedding dressed driving a car covered in decorations that you must have just got married.
Rant is not the book I expected it to be. I though that this would be a simple retelling of the life of Buster Casey from those who knew him. Instead it's an exploration of life and how Buster Casey is the secret to a world that you wouldn't think existed.
It does have its flaws mostly due to the style of the short sections meaning it doesn't flow easily on occasion. As you either find yourself hearing from a person you're not particularly interested in (even if what they say is meaningful to the plot) or you loose who is talking and what connection they are to everything.
By the time I got to the end I wanted to start all over again in order to see how what's revealed in the end is already told to you from the beginning. I probably will re-read it was the end is a little more complicated than I expected. This might make it a little disappointing to some readers who want everything a bit more cut and dry or who enjoyed the Party Crashing for just causing chaos.
This was my first Chuck Palahnuik novel and it won't be my last.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2007
Rant Casey is an icon of the future. He has become a god like creation for the people that live in the dark hours of the day. In the future, society is split between people who work during the day, and those during the night. Treated like second class citizens the nightimers take to dangerous games to keep themselves occupied. One man arrives that will spread a disease that will change the way the two societies co-exist.
'Rant' is another strange offering from the master of weird, Chuck Palahniuk. The format is an oral history of Rant's life so is told from various view points by the people that knew him. It takes a little getting used to but the format works well. I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book as it introduced twisted, yet intelligent, storylines the like which Palahniuk specialises in. However, I felt that the end went too far into the strange and undid a lot of the good that happened before. This is not one of Palahniuk best books, but still a good read - try the magnificent `Haunted' first.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 2008
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and was impressed, as ever, with Palaniuk's psychological truth. The futuristic element of this dystopia reminds me of Richard Matheson's work, with the insanity of bureaucratic logic pitted against the needs and desires of the individual. His characters are always skilfully drawn, in at least three dimensions. His female characters are neither ciphers nor stereotypes, always multi-layered individuals.
In all a work which could have been undermined by its structure, its 'oral history' which could so easily have become a 'gimmick' in the wrong hands, instead has its key themes reflected in its very structure; the disrupted time-line, the fractured society the characters live in, and most of all the disjointed personality and personal history of its eponymous protagonist.
Palahniuk differentiates between voices skilfully, yet weaves a seamless narrative. The revelations are suitably disconcerting and, though not entirely unexpected, he explores the implications so fully that even those of the 'the butler did it' mindset, the last page readers, would not feel they wasted their time reading right through.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2008
Palahniuk has used the multiple narrative form before, but the oral history conceit of this novel gives him the opportunity for further subtlety and ambiguity. This is more ambitous than some of his recent writings, though full of his usual themes of mutilation, degradation, disease and mortality. well worth the effort though probably not the best introduction to this author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love Chuck Palahniuk's books, his style of writing and bizzare subject matter really set him apart for me and I must confess he is one of my favourite authors.
Rant is written in the style of an oral history, a collection of anecdotes about Buster "Rant" Casey, told by friends, family members and others who knew him. If you have read any of Palahniuk's work previously, then you know this is not going to be a straightforward tale with a happy ending. It is very weird from start to finish, and the ending left me wishing for a sequel.
As with most of his writing, this is not one to read if you are squeamish or faint hearted, but if you like your books on the dark side, you will most likely enjoy this one.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Love him or hate him, Chuck Palahniuk is one of the most daring and adventurous writers of his generation. Having made his mark in trail-blazing style with Fight Club (now more than ten years old) the author has garnered praise and criticism in equal measure for his bold, minimalist style, sparse plots and warped characterisation - as well some genuinely stomach-turning descriptive passages. Rant, with its use of multiple narratives to tell the story of Buster 'Rant' Casey - a young man from a town "four hours drive from anywhere" who, in his time, was responsible for the phenomenon known as 'party-crashing' and the spread of rabies among the social underclass (referred to here as 'Nighttimers') - is typical Palahniuk fare. It lacks the rawness and millennial angst of Fight Club or Survivor, and unlike, say, Choke, this is not one you'll be able to read in one sitting. However, Rant sees Palahniuk at his most ambitious and anarchic, as he incorporates elements of science fiction theory (notably, the 'grandfather paradox') into a sustained attack on a whole range of societal conventions.
But it's not just attack for attack's sake. The genius of Palahniuk's work - and of Rant in particular - is in the way it deals with the truly bizarre and uses it to raise questions in our minds about what is really possible. He asks, who says we can't do that? Yes, Rant is complicated, and occasionally shocking. However, look beyond all that and you'll find insights into the human condition, which, however disturbing and far-fetched they may be, are startlingly reminiscent of the truth. I enjoyed this book immensely and even found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions at the sheer audacity of some of the story's twists.
on 30 December 2014
Rant is the first Palahniuk book that I’ve ever read, but it’s really turned me on to him as a writer – I can’t believe how exciting it was, and how vividly Palahniuk was able to show his semi-fictional world to us. Loosely speaking, it’s the story of Rant Casey, who’s described as “the man who may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time.”
Rant is a crazy young man with an addiction to everything that’s base and degenerate – he deliberately allows himself to be bitten by poisonous animals, and he can tell who a used tampon belongs to purely from the smell of it. Palahniuk’s novel is essentially a collection of reminiscences from Rant’s former friends, lovers, enemies and relations, assorted in to a roughly chronological order. As we read the novel, we feel like we get to know him just as much as they do.
But the true genius in this novel is the way in which the unusual narrative style allows Palahniuk to build up a picture of his protagonist – it’s a rare case of when telling is showing, and when the strong dialogue of a whole host of peripheral characters manages to focus on a central character who we never actually meet. Considering Casey is effectively a walking version of the bubonic plague, that can only be a good thing.
In fact, Rant is so good that I upped my rating of it from 8/10 to 9/10 while writing the review, purely because once I got started I remembered facets of the novel that I’d previously forgotten about. It does us all to have a little rant every now and then, even if it’s only about how good a book is. If the rest of Palahniuk’s work is this good then I’m in for a treat.
on 30 May 2012
I've never read Palahniuk before, and although everyone raves about Fight Club, in particular, I wasn't really sure his famously oddball style would be 'my kind of thing'. Happily, 'Rant' turned out to be EXACTLY my kind of thing, which is why this review has taken so long to write. It's always hardest to review the books we've loved most, isn't it?
I won't say too much about the plot, partly because there isn't one per se, and partly because I think this is really one those books that needs to be read WITHOUT knowing everything about it. That way the reader can work things out for themselves and be swept along by the narrative without any preconceptions and erroneous ideas ruining the fun. On the surface this is just what the name suggests: a fictional oral biography of a strange young man called Rant Casey, who has odd abilities, bizarre habits, and dangerous vices that include 'Party Crashing' - driving around at night in a kind of giant crazy game of dodgems - and being bitten by all kinds of venomous and diseased creatures.
But although Rant is at the centre of the novel, and everything ultimately returns to him, this is an incredibly reductive view of Palahniuk's vision. It is also very much about the way society works and about the people in Rant's life over the years. It is only as the book unfolds that you come to realise that Rant's America isn't the same as ours; it's a futuristic place with advanced media technology, and a society segregated into Daytimers and Nighttimers in an attempt to deal with overpopulation and road congestion. As these things are explained by the various 'contributors' to Rant's biography, the book becomes almost like a fascinating non-fiction at times, kept manageable and well-paced by the broken-up oral-biography format.
This really is an incredible book. It has the energy of a Baz Lurhmann movie and the no-nonsense brutality of Quentin Tarantino's finest, all rolled into one. I don't think I've ever read a book that feels so immediate and ALIVE. It bristles with energy, like electricity sparking off the page. As I turned the pages, I felt like I was in the hands of an expert manipulator; the building clues about Rant, about the new society, were all there, but I felt like I was working things out and getting little light-bulb moments EXACTLY when Palahniuk wanted me to. Whatever he wanted me to feel - nauseated, tender, intrigued, repulsed - I did. Even when I wasn't sure what was happening or where things were going, I felt 'safe' enough to accept it and carry on. Like the Nighttimers' Party Crashing culture, I just held on tight and went along for the ride - and what a ride it was!
'Rant' definitely isn't going to be for everyone - there are some pretty extreme and unsettling moments thrown in along the way - but if you dare to dive in and go with it, you will find a novel that is simultaneously philosophical, amusing, disgusting, exciting, thoughtful, sensual, perplexing, shocking, stimulating and utterly brilliant. Palahniuk throws out a continuous stream of ideas and observations, skewed through the different characters that make up the 'biography' and through the vaguely dystopian perspective. I'm still thinking about it now, a couple of weeks later, asking questions and trying to work it out in my mind all over again. Needless to say, I won't hesitate to read more Palahniuk now I've started.
on 7 January 2011
Like many others, I came to Palahniuk through the film Fight Club, which I'm not ashamed to admit, as I loved both the book and the film. After reading a much loaned, dog-eared copy I began buying his other work. If you've read his other stuff, it would probably be helpful to explain where I stand on those that I've read - Fight Club is my favourite, Haunted was very good, Choke was ok even though the central premise (people giving you money because they've saved your life) made no sense whatsoever, Invisible Monsters was alright, Diary took a while to get going and was ultimately unfulfilling and surprisingly predictable and Lullaby was ridiculous. And yes, I know I should read Survivor. Now for me, Rant slots in between Fight Club and Haunted. Opinion appears to be very divided on this book, but personally I loved it. The characters are well drawn and more wildly varied than ever. The paradoxical, twisting plot will keep you interested until the last page, when you'll be left scratching your head. Whereas Lullaby fell into the trap of using an unrealistic idea in the real world, only for this to fall flat, every mad idea in Rant occurs in a world which is very similar to ours, but not quite the same, giving Palahniuk much more free reign - this world is wholly his creation, so if he says something within it is possible, who are we to argue?
The story is told from the point of view of multiple protagonists - literally oral accounts - and chronicles the life of Buster, or 'Rant' Casey and the impact he has on the world around him. It's very easy to imagine the characters from how they speak and what they say, as the dialogue is very convincingly written. I found myself almost seeing a televised interview in my head at some moments. The plot itself mixes Palahniuk's usual off the wall, black humour with elements of sci-fi and horror, with tremendous effect - the novel is a constantly shifting prospect, mutating much like the virus Rant is developing with every sting and bite he receives. Incredibly, the extreme twists of the novel never feel like a step too far, because they're always following on from something almost as mad - it's this building up of excess after excess that keeps the story going, never falling flat, until it reaches it's bewildering conclusion. If you've never read Palahniuk's work before, this is an excellent place to start, as the style of writing makes it very approachable and easy to read, whilst the content itself is incredibly memorable. Due to the punchy nature of the delivery, incidents from the book will really stay with you, much as they do in Haunted, and much as they have done for the characters Rant has encountered. Palahniuk is back on some kind of form.