Other Books Read By This Author (4)
- Invisible Monsters
|08.15.07|| An Oral Biography of Buster Casey.
So I wasn't too hot on Haunted. I thought it was too long and had too much mediocre Palahniukisms in between the stories (most of which weren't that great. Guts was by far the best and I remember there being only one or two others that I really enjoyed)... so that after not liking Invisible Monsters as much as I thought I would kind of made me hesitant to pick this one up. I'm glad I finally did though because it's really good.
Mainly because it's challenging. Palahniuk works a lot with presumption and format here; it's a very deliberate choice to make it an oral biography (lots of little paragraphs that are quotes from a bunch of different people about one topic), such that you take very basic things for granted. Then he changes things, making you re-evaluate what you're already read. Then he does it again. and again. So while at first some of the things that are said don't make much sense (although the the Palahniuk-experienced you... er, I just took it as Chucky having fun with language or whatever) and there's one point in particular about half-way through the book where the subject matter drastically changes and you find out all this time you've been reading science fiction!
That's a pretty big surprise to drop on someone, and it becomes clear how carefully and meticulously both the structure and the subject matter are designed to lead to this reveal. It's really top-notch expert writing. And then he goes further.
Like most of his books, each Palahniuk chapter manages to deliver one cool idea after the other in concise blips; an effect that adds up to the book as a whole, dissected as one cool idea at a time. With this book, he more or less perfects that art while also further exploring common themes in most of his work. Whereas I would say that in Haunted Palahniuk is self-aware and falls into traps where he's being so Palahniuk-esque, in Rant he uses his self-awareness as a tool. The whole Party Crashing thing as it relates to Fight Clubs and every other subversive call to human social connection present in a lot of his books explodes into pure theory towards the end of Rant, explained by his characters in an effort to understand himself. Again, really strong and continuously surprising with where it goes.
So in that way, the book is a bit of a puzzle that you begin to understand as you read (the symbols next to everyone's name for instance, don't really take meaning until half-way through the book. Even the term "historian" takes on radically different meanings as you read). I'm really impressed that he's managed to pack such a wallop in this book. The more I think about it the more I like it.|