Rant, by Chuck Palahniuk

rant4.jpgChuck Palahniuk ends up telling the same story over and over again in his books. What’s astonishing is how fresh and gut-wrenchingly surprising (sorry) his approaches are. Even in his most tired formulations (sorry, Haunt), it’s still worth reading till the end. It doesn’t hurt that the basic “story” Palahniuk tells over and over again is among the strangest, yet most basically fundamental, things scratched on dead tree.

Rant rates as some of his best work.

It’s not that his writing shines, because it doesn’t. It’s not that the book starts off auspiciously, because it doesn’t, particularly. Or: it does, but of course you’re too wrapped up in preconceived notions to understand how much it’s going to blow you out of the water, by the end. And it’s unfair to say that the writing doesn’t shine, because–preconceived notions.

It’s difficult to say more, or anything.

The basic structure of Rant is that of an oral history, the sub-title tells you. Though you could probably figure it out pretty quickly based on the string of names that pop up, the bold-faced names by occupations and descriptors. Also because Palahniuk spells it out for you on the second page. Just in case you aren’t good at figuring things out. (In which case, incidentally, this book’s probably not for you anyway.) Like any of Palahniuk’s writing, Rant is schizophrenic, with lots of things going on, rapid-fire details vying for your attention, trying to disgust, compel, impress. But Rant is schizophrenic in different sorts of ways than, say, Survivor, or Fight Club. There are the usual things put there to snag your attention, the things that make good soundbites for reviews, jacket copy, blah blah blah. Party crashing, rabies, spider bites, and so on.

Yes, but. These are distractions, mostly. Mind you, the distractions are their own commentary, but they’re not the main show. Figuring out where distraction ends and something else starts is the whole point, or at least part of it. You want the story? Read the book. Just don’t expect applause.