“We’ll never be as young as we are tonight.”

Chuck Palahniuk is once again out to shake you up. He’s completely politically incorrect and sometimes straight-out gross, but man, is he’s creative!

The strange thing is that no matter how different his plots are, you can clearly see Palahniuk’s voice in all of his books, so how come they always feel so innovative? They’re always a snapshot of sub-cultures and people who live outside what’s “normal”. Cool people, doing things which are illegal, outrageous and unhealthy, but who you’d secretly like to join. The same thing happens in “Rant”.

It’s almost impossible to describe what this book is about because what it’s about in the first pages, is not what it’s about in the middle, and definitely not what it’s about in the end. So when you start to feel comfortable with Palahniuk’s ideas, he stretches your imagination a bit further, and for good measure he might just throw in some indications that the few things you safety think you know, might be completely wrong.

Generally, “Rant” is set in a near future (or different present), and is the “oral history” of recently-deceased Buster “Rant” Casey, a small town boy infamous for being patient zero in a worldwide rabies epidemic. His story is constructed through the accounts of different people, often with contradictory views. Among others, you hear from his mother, his dentist, his teachers, his neighbors, the car-salesman who sat next to him once in an airplane, an epidemiologist and friends who came together to play a sort of Fight Club with cars. Each tell their story through soundbites of only an average of two paragraphs each time they make an appearance.

You might think this format would fragment the story, and sounds gimmicky, but you’ll soon realize it’s perfect to convey the frenetic chain of events and Palahniuk’s the characters’ ming-bogging theories on conspiracy, existence, reality, time and the surest way to sell a car.

There are laughing out loud scenes, seeping with dark humor and whenever you put two and two together all your little grey cells are tickled. Even the cryptic dedication makes sense in the end and becomes amazingly touching: “For my father, Fred Leander Palahniuk. Look up from the sidewalk. Please.” Here are some ideas on the importance of music while driving:

Shot Dunyun (Party Crasher)
(…)
Music is crucial.
Beyond no way can I overstress this fact.
Let’s say you’re southbound on the interstate, cruising along in the middle lane, listening to AM radio. Up alongside comes a tractor trailer of logs or concrete pipe, a tiedown strap breaks, and the load dumps on top of your little sheetmetal ride. Crushed under a world of concrete, you’re sandwiched like so much meat salad between layers of steel & glass. In that last, fast flutter of your eyelids, you looking down that long tunnel toward the bright God Light and your dead grandma walking up to hug you – do you want to be hearning another radio commerical for a mega, clearance closeout, blow-out liquidation car-stereo sale?
No bullshit. If your car skids into oncoming traffic, and you die listening to The Archies sing “Sugar Sugar,” it’s your own damn laziness.

LOL! Palahniuk at its best.

I got the impression that Rant (the character) was very similar to Owen Meany: they’re both special, tragic outsiders who effortlessly became popular. Someone you don’t understand but can’t help like. But I suspect I’m the only person in the world to think so…

So, if you’re already a fan and used to Palahniuk’s writing, I’m sure Rant will push the right buttons. If you’re not and would still like to give it a try, buckle up, you’re in for a ride!

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