Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review: Rant

Book Review: Rant by Chuck Palahniuk

One of Palahniuk’s more recent works, Rantis a story told in the form of an oral history. This stylistic approach requires the interviewing of witnesses who knew, knew of or wanted to talk about the subject and compiling them into the history of the given individual. As he states in the author’s note at the front of the book, anytime you interview multiple people about a given topic, their views are bound to contradict each other in places. It is from this contradictory and fragmented viewpoint that the genius of Rant is revealed.

I found the method of story-telling to be not only refreshing, but a great way to explore the title character and broach many of the subjects that Palahniuk touches on in the novel, including: religion, genocide, segregation, time travel and alternate realities. As you take the journey into the life and death of Buster “Rant” Casey you get exposed to small threads of a larger, more complex web that Palahniuk is spinning in this story. While some people have said that this from of delivering the story is disjointed and detracts from the overall value of the novel, I found it to be thought provoking and delightful.

While the novel will make you think and recall past events mentioned, I find nothing wrong with the author forcing the readers to engage the material and piece the events together ourselves, reaching our own conclusions. In fact, this very facet of the book lends it to a certain sustainability, as this is the type of book that you can read over and over again an pick up on details overlooked in a first reading or reach a fresh conclusion you hadn’t considered the first time around.

While the formatting of the book is a break from the usual mold by being an oral history, the writing is classic Palahniuk - vivid imagery, dark humor, a capacity for the macabre that is unparalleled and an outside the box approach. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read through it very quickly. Once I got to the heart of the story, I had to plow through to the end without putting it down (in my eyes, the mark of a great book). If you liked his earlier works, you’ll enjoy this one as well and if you are new to Palahniuk or only recognize him as “the guy who wrote Fight Club” then you should give this book a look

Also of note, he has a new novel, Snuffthat hit shelves May 20th. I got my copy this weekend and will have a review up once I get around to reading it.

Four and Half out of Five Stars

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