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Book Review: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

lullaby PalahniukAfter Survivor, Lullaby is my favorite Chuck Palahniuk book. In fact, no other book he has written since then has made me laugh and wince as much, or turn the pages as quickly.

As with most of Chuck’s books, there are several story threads going on, but the best revolves around a journalist investigating a sudden outbreak of infant deaths. At each nursery where an infant has passed, there are similarities that seem quite innocent at first. In particular, the presence of a book of children’s rhymes and songs.

Unfortunately, one of the songs happens to be an African culling song, a song that is sung to dying warriors to help ease their passage into the next world. In other words, it helps them die. In the case of the kids that are hearing the song, well…

The story really gets going once Streator, the journalist, gets the song stuck in his head. He keeps forgetting himself and singing it, and people around him pay the price. Then things escalate when even thinking the song starts to do the trick, particularly as he starts to realize just how many people annoy him or enrage him in the world.

And because this is a Chuck Palahniuk novel, there is a lot of other stuff going on. We get commentaries on noise pollution, sitcom laugh tracks, grieving husbands, corporate blackmail, some morbid romance, the drudgery of the hired hitman, and much more, including one of the more disturbing uses for gemstones that I have ever read.

If this doesn’t intrigue you, consider that a clue and don’t read it. Palahniuk has legions of fans that adore him, but people who can’t stand him really don’t like his work. After reading this review, I hope you have some idea of which camp you’re in.

As for me, I still read Lullaby every couple of years, and every time someone annoys me, I recall snatches of the song. But it never works.

And if you’re a fan of the man, you might enjoy this post about the letter I got from Mr. Palahniuk.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Iain D February 17, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Lullabye was one of his better books. He’s had a few that weren’t great. Tell-all was weak, and I didn’t like Hidden Monsters either. That said, his writing style is unpredictable in the best sense of the word. You have a rough idea what you’re going to get with him, but he always surprises you with how he does it.
    I ‘read’ “Pygmy” in audiobook and I think it actually enhanced the story because it made you think in that sort of jarring, unconventional English that the narrator used. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

  • Heather February 18, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Am adding to the “must download” list. 🙂

  • Ryan February 19, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Perhaps my favorite CP writing moment is when Streator is walking down the street killing everyone who passes by. Some of the darkest, most hilarious writing ever.