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Literature / Rant

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"Like most people, I didn't meet and talk to Rant Casey until after he was dead."
Wallace Boyer (☼ Car Salesman)

Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey is a novel by Chuck Palahniuk in the form of an oral biography. It covers the life and death of Buster Landru "Rant" Casey through a series of contradictory firsthand accounts, each of which usually mean at least three different things, most of which appear shallow, misinformed or even downright absurdist until The Reveal.

James Franco is planning on making a movie version.

Contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: Shot Dunyun. He didn't pull away from Rant for two camera flashes, and then proceeded to not only ask if Rant is queer, but also if he's looking for a boyfriend. Takes someone pretty...knowledgeable to make that distinction, don't you think? He later seems a bit too willing to plant one on Neddy, as well.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Many minor characters consistently ramble about grand conspiracies, paranormal activities and seemingly nonexistent technologies that may lead the reader to ignore them. Most of them are spot on.
    • There's a big example early on, when one of the minor characters goes on about a conspiracy theory involving Jack the Ripper time-traveling to become his own father.
  • Clone Jesus: Inverted, as the book suggests that Jesus himself may actually be a clone resulting from a man going back in time to rape Mary.
  • Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit: Green Taylor Simms accumulates superhuman powers by recursively raping his mother in the past, with the time-loop making him stronger each time it completes.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: More and more characters appear to be orphans as the story unfolds. Although it may simply be themselves returning to the past to kill them to achieve immortality.
  • Expospeak: One third of the way in, an entire chapter is dedicated to Shot Dunyan explaining boosted peaks. It's at this point that the novel becomes science fiction.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: The story is told as a series of interviews of people acquainted with the protagonist in various ways. Possibly partially subverted in that one contributor is all but explicitly stated to be a version of the protagonist after time travel and The Slow Path factor in.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The testimonies are given after Rant Casey's death.
  • Genre Shift: The book is a fictional oral biography of... well, that's just it. He's an interesting character, but what we're supposed to think is significant about Buster Casey changes rapidly. There's a brief mention early on of a rabies epidemic, but by the end it's revealed that he is his own adopted father, and biological father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather, and the villain, via car accident induced time travel. In addition, it's not until an offhand remark by a character about a third of the way into the book about ports in the back of people's heads that you realize it's a sci-fi story set in the future.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The story is told from several different viewpoints all at once (often contradicting each other) by way of having the side characters interviewed after the fact. Several different ways of putting this puzzle together are possible.
  • Kidanova: Rant did everyone as a kid. Everyone. Girls in his class, at least one teacher...and your mom. Really, he did his friend's mom.
  • Masquerade: As it turns out, the story takes place in the dystopian future where urban dwellers are separated into two social classes, the Daytimers and the Nighttimers, the latter's lifestyle involving demolition derbies known as Party Crashing.
  • My Girl Is a Slut / My Girl Is Not a Slut : Played around with very complexly with Echo. She is not a slut, but she makes a living off pretending to be one, telling her clients a story of sexual abuse and exploitation so horrible that they can't bring themselves to have sex with her and keep her on the payroll out of pity.
  • My Own Grampa: By the conclusion of the narrative, it's revealed that three characters are the same person from different timelines, one of which has been elevated to a superhuman level of power by raping his own mother and becoming a walking, breathing Time Paradox, and the other two trying to stop this from happening.
  • No Longer with Us: Inverted. Rant's not dead. He's just in the past trying to stop himself from killing his mother.
  • The Nose Knows: Rant has a supernatural sense of smell, allowing him to divine people's health from their scent, and being able to be able to identify women by [[the scent of their menstrual blood.]]
  • One-Word Title: Protagonist Title nickname-style.
  • The Plague: Maybe? Well, Rant spreads a rabies epidemic which renders boosting technology unusable. Also, having rabies lets you go back in time — the Government apparently boosts a constant effect to everyone that prevents the state necessary for time travel, and without a working port, you're free.
  • Porn Stash: Echo Lawrence is Rant's "porn buddy" who will remove his porn stash in the case of his death before his family can find it. Echo is Rant's girlfriend.
  • Protagonist Title: One-Word Title nickname-style.
  • Razor Apples: The protagonist's mother puts things like ceramic beads and tacks in all the food she cooks so that the people who are eating it have to eat it very slowly and carefully, and thus actually get a chance to enjoy the flavor, not just wolf it down.
  • Repetitive Name: Echo Lawrence's father was named Larry. She points this out and seems annoyed at the constant jokes, but her nickname takes on an interesting light.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Many characters are guilty of this, especially the scientists, but none of them are as guilty as Green Taylor Simms.
  • That Liar Lies: Speakers occasionally accuse each other of lying for selfish reasons.
    Echo Lawrence: Consider the source. Maybe Shot Dunyun just wants to slip back in time without any competition.
    Shot Dunyun: Bullshit.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Rant ends up using all of the information given to him by Green Taylor Simms to try to stop him from raping his own mother. He arrives a few minutes too late to change events.
  • Typhoid Mary: Rant contracts rabies and then causes an epidemic that inadvertently leads to a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Urban Segregation: Sort of. The dichotomy is completely time-based (see Masquerade above) with the justification of enabling "effective use and maintenance of infrastructure". This is supposedly motivated by overpopulation, although Lynn Coffey views it as nothing more than systematic oppression.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: How Rant got his nickname.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Echo Lawrence is notably absent from this (Although it is said in the audiobook that she is "missing and presumed immortal").
  • Women's Mysteries: The title character gets outraged that girls can excuse themselves from class by claiming to have "cramps". He later fights for boys to get a similar treatment by having a "situation" (=boners!).
  • You Already Changed the Past: The events in the book turn out to be the result of Rant failing to prevent Green Taylor Simms from raping and killing his mother. It is implied that the current reality is the result of all the time-traveling and all the events resolve to a universe where the novel is considered a work of fiction.