**spoiler alert** The story of Rant Casey will likely be the key to Palahniuk’s reality in which he writes. Perhaps like Stephen King’s Darktower seri**spoiler alert** The story of Rant Casey will likely be the key to Palahniuk’s reality in which he writes. Perhaps like Stephen King’s Darktower series, Rant Casey’s world and narrative will be the primer to all else that happens in the world of fight clubs and party crashing. There will be other stories and other arcs, but it may be just possible that all of them in some way will touch on the themes and events that transpire in Casey’s hometown of Middleton and The City which in turn may give hints or compliment the other stories and arcs.
But I don’t know.
“Rant” is a real snorter in concept and execution. In short we will call it a near future medium-grade sci-fi dystopian novel. In saying that, I could possibly spoil the first quarter of the book for Palahniuk gleefully plays with the reader of “Rant” by dabbling in subtle misdirection and information starvation.
“Rant” is formatted like an oral biography or memorandum. The subject, Rant, is stated to dead right at the beginning. What follows are short alternating statements, musings, theories, memories, and tirades involving or alluding to Rant and his life.
References made by the “speakers” regarding many things are completely left to the reader to figure out as the novel moves along. Want to know what the moon and sun symbols mean that accompany a person’s name? Keep reading. You’ll figure it out. Think you know what “Party Crashing” is? I doubt it. Keep reading. What’s this with ports? You get the idea.
Rant was the product of rural America but the practitioner of esoteric hobbies and possessor of rare talents. Rant is not a prodigy in this way, but rather an outcast from society. One odd hobby of Rant’s was to go fishing. No, this is not the type of fishing where one baits a hook and sits on the riverbank all day; rather Rant’s way of fishing was to grind meatloaf in his hands and stick them down hole containing all sorts of critters and varmint . Rant would often get stung or bitten while fishing, but he called it getting vaccinated against life. The imprint that Rant leaves on the Middleton community builds to zany, uncomfortable, funny, disturbing levels. One may not be able to think of the tooth fairy or a community haunted house again.
Rant had the ability to tell many things through taste. From the taste of ones saliva, for instance, or other bodily fluids, Rant might be able to tell that a person has an unburned scented candle by her bedside. Yeah, really.
Rant, apparently is also Patient Zero of a widespread rabies epidemic threatening the entire country. It is for this that he has gained much notoriety. Or is that why? Keep reading.
Rant eventually escapes (or quests?) out of small town America with puzzling words and references from his father leading the way. Among them: that Rant’s real father is to be found in The City.
Not much else can be told about Rant’s story. Part of the fun and part of the point is to figure things out as one goes along. Slowly society is revealed and everything the reader thought he understood is suddenly stood on its ear. I will make one suggestion: Do not get frustrated with the Party Crashing bits half way through the book. That section is a bit long and languishes in tedium, but the payoff that it leads to in the last quarter of the book is worth it and the information becomes crucial.
Rant’s story unfolds with oblique idleness. A reader feels that he reaches conclusions accidentally or deciphers ambiguity via dogged mental activity, but that is the aim of the story. Palahniuk knows that we are most affected by the things that we ourselves come to believe, so he makes us think that his conclusions are our own. Crafty.
The story ends as something so far from where it begins that one might wonder if he missed something at the beginning; something that would have given a clue to the mind bend and commentary that was ahead. The answer is no. The reader falls unavoidably into Palahniuk’s trap. It’s a fun ride and one that is worthwhile enough to forgive what comes to be the story’s preachy and repetitive message....more