Thursday, September 23, 2010
Chuck Palahniuk, I believe, is one of the best writers alive today. Would I recommend to all people? No. Would I recommend him to most people? No. He has such a specific audience that it's hard to peg who would enjoy him. However, I think I fall under that small category that would.
Does a good writer have to appeal to a lot of people?
Not a bad question to ponder.
In terms of Palahniuk, he is just SO out there. He writes about content that might make you embarassed to be reading in public (as I feel). Certain scenes or subjects are either too extreme or gory or explicit, so it's borderline embarassing to give it the stamp of approval. He's certainly not someone to recommend to a high school student (for fear of parents getting angry). However, he is someone to recommend to another adult.
His writing, I find, is so intelligent. Rant is one example that shows how diverse and intelligent he is. The ending became so complicated that I had to reread sections to make sure I was understanding it. After completing research during my post-reading exercise that I do, I discovered that Rant is the first book in a trilogy. Imagine my excitement!
Rant has scenes that made me cringe as I read it. He is so descriptive that it's hard not to physically contort your face and continuously mold your countenance into ways that people near you might start to question what you're reading. But, I think this makes him both memorable and effective. His description of the rotten, dirty, poverty-stricken town just makes you uncomfortable when you read it. Normally, when people read, they like to be taken to a nice place to escape the one they currently live in. When you read this setting, you are transported to a place where you just feel downright icky. It's not something you want to escape to. It's somewhere you want to flee from. But, that really encapsulates what he's trying to get across. This is why Rant wants to leave.
What makes this book unique is that it's told by everyone that Rant encounters except for Rant (if you've read this, you know that this is slightly untrue, but I will not go into further detail as not to spoil it just yet). Rant is the main character. The first scene introduces Rant's father on an airplane. Rant is known throughout the country as this horrible, horrible person for starting a nationwide rabies epidemic, and he has just died. The interviewer asks Rant's father questions about him, and then we flash back in time to see who he was through everyone he knew.
The true title of the story is Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey, Rant's true name being Buster Casey. I thought it was so interesting to read a story through people's interpretations. You have to pick through what people say to see what is real instead of taking everyone's word for truth on face value. You read a range of people's interviews from friends to enemies, from teachers to parents. It's very cool to watch it all unfold while still following a plot.
Rant is such a deep, diverse character. Even though he seems to be portrayed as a villain (seemingly killing family members with spider bites and spreading rabies), he is very intelligent. He discovers valuable coins and spreads the wealth in his poor town. I think it's interesting to see how the town manipulates one another and how they spend the money. Rant also graduates early from high school because he brings up an adolescent male issue that the town just wants to get rid of. I don't want to tell more details; it could be inappropriate for some viewers. He makes deep comments where it shows that he's trying to live this life differently than others and experience all that he can (not a bad human trait). The reader is constantly conflicted with his villainous side and his admirable side.
He seems to have some superhuman qualities as well, which brings in the fantasy/sci fi twist towards the end. I will not give away the end. If you would like to see it, view Wikipedia's explanation of it. Rant has hightened senses--he can smell or taste something and tell much more than an average person could tell about it. When he kisses girls (and more) he can taste what they've eaten for days past. He leaves messages on eggs for his friends when he passes; he writes in wax on the eggs and in order to read the message, viewers must dunk the egg in some kind of ink to read the message. Interesting.
Throughout the novel, we travel all throughout Rant's life. We see his childhood. We see his adolescence. We see his transition from the small town to the big city where he becomes a Party Crasher. Once Rant arrives in the city, we see that it is a dystopian future where the world is divided into Daytimers and Nighttimers, two different classes. Daytimers, as it appears, are classier individuals who play by the rules, and Nighttimers are oppressed individuals looking for a wild, good time.
Of course, Rant is a Nighttimer. He is involved in a group called the Party Crashers who drive cars late at night with the purpose to crash them. Each night has a different theme. For example, one night may be Christmas, and cars well decorate themselves with trees on the top of them, lights around the sides, and someone dressed as Santa driving the car and elves as passengers. It is when Rant becomes a Party Crasher that he meets the woman he loves, Echo Lawrence, a physically deformed girl.
I will not spoil the ending in this entry, so read elsewhere for more!
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. If you like sci fi twists or dystopias, then you will like where the book goes. If you can stomach some hard core descriptions, then you can make it through the book. But seriously, it's really interesting and it's really entertaining. Give it a try, but if you don't like it, don't blame me!
So what do you think of Rant?