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8.17.2007

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

Quick post on an extraordinary book, but first, a poem.

Now that you've digested that little treat, let's talk about Chuck Palahniuk's newest, Rant. Those of you reading this at my
website know I'm an admirer of Chuck's work. I like his creativity and his curiosity in working in different structural arrangements. Rant is a good example of each of these qualities.

Told in short snippets culled from recollections made by friends, families, teachers and those that have grown up beneath the shadow of Buster Casey's legend, the book is at times riotously funny and horrifically gruesome.

Buster Casey is a Palahniuk standard-a character that feels most vital in moments of suffering. He allows himself to be bitten by poisonous insects. He thrusts his arms into gopher dens, hoping to contract rabies.

And he gets his wish, developing an ultra-virulent strain of the affliction and becoming a "super spreader"-a modern version of Typhoid Mary whose actions lead to a large segment of the U.S. becoming infected.

Set in a dystopic future where the expanding population has required curfews based on night and day, the novel treads on lots of familiar Palahniuk territory. It comments intelligently on the effects of social anxiety and a unique quality of nihilism associated with urban life.

Buster is something of a prophet. Those who follow him spout his musings, relegating them almost to a form of religion. In one affecting recollection, Casey remarks "We'll never be as young as we are right now." Simple words-powerful idea.

This is a very superficial look at a book I highly recommend, but I'd challenge those of you that have looked at it to comment here. For those of you that have not read it, head to Powell's Books and grab a copy. Support your Oregon writers.

Enjoy the weekend and I'll see you back around these parts on Monday, when we talk about
conflict (does anyone feel bad for the Cobra Kai kid when he gets kicked in the face?).

P.S. Man, Random House rolled out a nice
site to promote the book.

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