Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
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“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 euthanising 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. Lullaby is a comedy/drama/tragedy. In that order. It may also be Chuck Palahniuk’s best book yet.”
I think that this book is catered to a specific reader, someone who appreciates dark humour and is familiar with works by Chuck Palahniuk. This was not a suspenseful read; it held my attention up until about halfway through the book when I found myself getting bored. I found the plot to be lacking and it read more like an adventure novel; it seemed to be very episodic. What made me keep reading and kept me engaged was this notion of words, the power of words, and the idea of quiet vs. loud.
Palahniuk takes something as innocent and as soothing as a lullaby and turns it into something more sinister. If that’s not enough, Palahniuk adds in witchcraft and dead babies to draw the reader in. The protagonist, Carl Streator, is someone who has anger management problems which creates some humorous moments within the novel. These moments involve Carl killing people he comes across that annoys or angers him by reciting the culling poem inside his head. With each of these encounters and death, Carl receives moments of clarity and realizes how powerful words are, especially the words of the poem. Carl partners up with realtor Helen Hoover Boyle, Mona, and Oyster in order to find all the copies of the book that contains the poem in order to destroy it.
This book is 2/5 cups of tea. The main reason is that I got bored halfway through and I struggled to finish the novel. It got way too weird for me with the introduction of witchcraft and spells. I did enjoy Palahniuk’s writing style and the continued theme of noise vs. quiet woven throughout the novel.
Let me know if you’ve read this book in the comments below!
Cups of Tea:
Red Wine, tea just doesn’t go with this novel.
Published: June 5, 2003