Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Book #49


Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk


Carl Streator is a reporter investigating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a soft-news feature. After responding to several calls with paramedics, he notices that all the dead children were read the same poem from the same library book the night before they died. It's a 'culling song' - an ancient African spell for euthanizing sick or old people. Researching it, he meets a woman who killed her own child with it accidentally. He himself accidentally killed his own wife and child with the same poem twenty years earlier. Together, the man and the woman must find and destroy all copies of this book, and try not to kill every rude sonofabitch that gets in their way.


This was wonderful, as I expected it to be.

The premise originally borders on the ridiculous. Oh, a lullaby that can put people to sleep forever? How believable! If you have feelings along these lines as you begin to read this, they quickly evaporate. Palahniuk writes so well that the story turns into something that your mind can comprehend as something that could absolutely, without a doubt, happen to any one of us.

It gets frustrating and confusing about a third of the way in, with the plot twisting and writhing in all sorts of odd shapes, but perseverance is definitely the key here, and the loose ends tying up at the end is almost mouth-watering.

Palahniuk's comments about life's distractions were what I loved most of all. He berated all the things that cluster around us, preventing us from thinking properly, things like noise, television and marketing jingles. It really gives you something to think about. Whether that's in any way ironic or not, I couldn't say.

This is classic Palahniuk - he takes something truly disgusting and turns it into something you don't want to forget, something you'll continue to think about, and something that may make you question your morals. Call him over-hyped, call him the hipster prince, call him anything you like, I love him.


49 / 66 books. 74% done!

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