Palahniuk, Chuck. Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey. Doubleday Publishing, 2007.
Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey
Written by: Chuck Palahniuk
Reviewed by: Eden Bailey
Recommended Audience: High School or College Students
Rant tells the story of a man named Buster Casey, who goes by Rant. Rant is from a small rural town called Middleton. The book starts out by telling us two things: Rant Casey was responsible for an epidemic that caused the deaths of millions of people, and Rant Casey is dead. From a young age, Rant Casey was mistreated and neglected by his father, and was cared for mostly by his mother. Rant is addicted to any kind of venom and, when he was young, he would seek out venomous animals to bite him. As an adult, Rant keeps spiders in jars and allows them to bite him. Later in his life, Rant discovers that he is infected with the rabies virus which, for a reason unknown to him, he is immune to.
At the age of 18, Rant moves out of Middleton and into the city. At this point in the novel, it becomes clear that the story is set in a near future. Rant becomes involved in an underground, illegal demolition derby known as Party Crashing. Through Party Crashing, Rant meets a girl named Echo Lawrence and becomes romantically involved with her. In a few months time, the rabies virus becomes an epidemic, leading to a city-wide curfew, where those caught outside after dark are shot on site. Rant realizes that he is the cause of this outbreak, as his rabies virus has mutated and is now highly contagious. One night, Rant is killed in a Party Crashing incident. While his car exploded with him inside it, his body was never recovered. This fuels much speculation as to his fate.
Rant becomes the subject of conspiracy theories, the most common of which involving time travel. Those who knew Rant believe he found a way to time travel through the notes of a man named Green Taylor Simms. Echo believes this man is Rant from an alternate timeline, who is using time travel to his advantage by killing his ancestors, which he believes will make him immortal. Rant’s friends and relatives believe he has gone back in time to stop Simms from killing his mother, which will effectively make him immortal. The book goes on to give a number of realistic reasons for why Rant’s body was never recovered, and compares him to celebrities like Elvis Presley or James Dean, who were rumored to have faked their own deaths. The idea is presented that perhaps Rant is simply another icon that people like to think is still living in some bizarre way. It is at this point in the book that Echo says if Rant truly went back in time and succeeded in saving his mother, then perhaps the events of this non-fiction book will become the documentation of history that never happened, or as she calls it “a fictional true story” with no outbreak and no government oppression and where Rant can live a peaceful life. This ending, while ambiguous, is meant to hint at the possibility that Rant was successful in his mission.
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