Saturday, May 03, 2008

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey

Hey, 2 in one day (thanks to the wonder of audio books) not bad. This time out it's Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. Like Halting State earlier today, this is a novel that takes some enormous chances, but this time around it's not for the best. I'm actually kind of amazed this book became the giant mess it did given how strongly it began, really just kind of sad, especially from a writer as assured as Palahniuk.

Anyway, the setup for the book is brilliant. The novel is told as an oral biography of Buster Casey, a kid with a stash of rare coins, a penchant for getting bit by wild animals and living through car crashes, and most importantly the originator of a country wide Rabies epidemic. To make things even stranger, the story takes place in a near future in which the population has been divided into daytime and nighttime camps, and in which playing back the experiences of others has replace all other forms of entertainment. All of these elements are blended together flawlessly.

And narrative pulls a total 180 and becomes a debate over the feasibility of time travel, and what would happen if you impregnated and/or killed your mother. Yeah, an odd choice to say the least, and it ruins what otherwise may have been Palahniuk's best novel (which I still say is Lullaby).

5 comments:

zandperl said...

Are you saying that you actually read audiobooks faster than print books? Do you listen to them all day at work or something? I just listen to them in the car and even w/ an hour commute each way they go slower than print books.

jmgold said...

Oh God no. I came very close to having to renew this one twice, while I read Halting State over the course of 3 weeks. Although I do plan on getting through the next audiobook quickly thanks to a 4 hour drive to the Cape for a conference.

zandperl said...

I'll occasionally listen to an audiobook at home while doing chores or grading, and then the book flies by. But otherwise, yeah, it takes forever. I've started downloading them thru CWMARS, but unfortunately it only works on a Windows machine and I had to get a .wma player, but it's still cheaper than buying them outright.

jmgold said...

I haven't actually tried the download service yet, I've been curious and heard that they had rolled back some of the DRM involved. I know there's a copy of Rudy Rucker's short story collect out there.

Dyanne said...

Great work.