Tag: Telling

Kurt Vonnegut – Jailbird | Review

Title: Jailbird

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 240

Rating: 3/5

This book is a satirical novel that ties back in with the Watergate scandal, and because of that I struggled with it from time to time purely because I’m not particularly familiar with that particular part of American history. I’ve never liked Nixon, but he was also in power a long time before I was born and so it almost feels like it doesn’t matter.

Still, there was some fun stuff here, mostly revolving around Vonnegut’s wry observations and his occasional excellent one-liners. Because it’s also a sort of fictionalised biography of sorts, it also reminded me quite a lot of my own current work-in-progress, which follows the career of a fictional band. It has that same vibe where you have to optimise between showing and telling because while showing is an understandably good practice to have, you also need to tell sometimes to progress the narrative.

I’d say that I mostly appreciated this book from a writing point of view rather than because I particularly enjoyed it, but I think there’s a place for books like that on my shelves and I’m glad that I finally read this, especially considering it’s been on my shelves for several years now just waiting for me to finally tick it off. And to think that it took less than 48 hours. I feel kinda silly now!

Learn more about Jailbird.

 


Chuck Palahniuk – Rant | Review

Title: Rant

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 319

Rating: 9/10

 

Chuck Palahniuk - Rant

Chuck Palahniuk – Rant

 

Rant is the first Palahniuk book that I’ve ever read, but it’s really turned me on to him as a writer – I can’t believe how exciting it was, and how vividly Palahniuk was able to show his semi-fictional world to us. Loosely speaking, it’s the story of Rant Casey, who’s described as “the man who may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time.”

Rant is a crazy young man with an addiction to everything that’s base and degenerate – he deliberately allows himself to be bitten by poisonous animals, and he can tell who a used tampon belongs to purely from the smell of it. Palahniuk’s novel is essentially a collection of reminiscences from Rant’s former friends, lovers, enemies and relations, assorted in to a roughly chronological order. As we read the novel, we feel like we get to know him just as much as they do.

But the true genius in this novel is the way in which the unusual narrative style allows Palahniuk to build up a picture of his protagonist – it’s a rare case of when telling is showing, and when the strong dialogue of a whole host of peripheral characters manages to focus on a central character who we never actually meet. Considering Casey is effectively a walking version of the bubonic plague, that can only be a good thing.

In fact, Rant is so good that I upped my rating of it from 8/10 to 9/10 while writing the review, purely because once I got started I remembered facets of the novel that I’d previously forgotten about. It does us all to have a little rant every now and then, even if it’s only about how good a book is. If the rest of Palahniuk’s work is this good then I’m in for a treat.

 

Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk

 

Click here to buy Rant.

 


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