Mr. Palahniuk doesn't write for tourists. He writes for hard-core devotees drawn to the wild, angry imagination on display and the taboo-busting humor.
New York Times
One of the most feverish imaginations in American letters.... More than your weekly prescribed dose of humor and humanity, cleverness and outrage.
Brilliant...extremely fun.... With his love of contemporary fairytales that are gritty and dirty rather than pretty, Palahniuk is the likeliest inheritor of Vonnegut's place in American writing.
San Francisco Chronicle
Palahniuk is no Studs Terkel, but Terkel's heartland probably looks more like Palahniuk's nowadays. —Keir Graff
Buster Casey, destined to live fast, die young and murder as many people as he can, is the rotten seed at the core of Palahniuk's comically nasty eighth novel (after Haunted; Lullaby; Diary; etc.). Set in a future where urbanites are segregated by strict curfews into Daytimers and Nighttimers, the narrative unfolds as an oral history comprising contradictory accounts from people who knew Buster. These include childhood friends horrified by the boy's macabre behavior (getting snakes, scorpions and spiders to bite him and induce instant erections; repeatedly infecting himself with rabies), policemen and doctors who had dealings with the rabies "superspreader"; and Party Crashers, thrill-seeking Nighttimers who turn city streets into demolition derby arenas. After liberally infecting his hometown peers with rabies, Buster hits the big city and takes up with the Party Crashers. A series of deaths lead to a police investigation of Buster (long-since known as "Rant"—the sound children make while vomiting) that peaks just as Buster apparently commits suicide in a blaze of car-crash glory. This dark religious parable (there's even a resurrection) from the master of grotesque excess may not attract new readers, but it will delight old ones.
Viciously incisive and lethally funny social commentary in a novel cast as an oral biography. Palahniuk's latest (Haunted, 2005, etc.) provides a parody of the oral biography format (Edie, Capote), offers homage to both James Dean and J.G. Ballard's Crash and serves to show just how much teenage angst has degenerated since the innocence of Holden Caulfield—all this before a time-warped finale that turns genealogy into some sort of Mobius strip. Though his voice appears minimally in the narrative, the hero (or is he?) of the novel is Buster (or Buddy) "Rant" Casey, who lives a short life of escalating destruction just to be able to do something, feel something and escape from the rural town that is living death to those who don't manage to leave it. A boy of peculiarly (even mystically) sensual intuition, he initially amuses himself by seeking bites from various animals and insects, launching a rabies epidemic as he passes his infections along through sexual encounters. With his move to the bigger city, he attracts a posse of "Party Crashers," joy riders who spend their evenings in wedding attire crashing into each others' vehicles. One crash kills Rant, who is dead (or is he?) as the novel begins and is eulogized by a Greek chorus of friends, neighbors, relatives and enemies, along with an eyewitness reporter for DRVR Radio Graphic Traffic and an historian whose involvement in the proceedings sustains a mystery through much of the novel. Many of the themes in the author's exploration of the dark underbelly of modern life and culture will be familiar to his ardent fans, but the formal inventiveness of the fictional oral biography provides a fresh twist. Not for everyone, but readers who like to walk on the novelist's wild side will rave.
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