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Lullaby: A Novel Hardcover – September 17, 2002
Carl Streator is a solitary widower and a fortyish newspaper reporter who is assigned to do a series of articles on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In the course of this investigation he discovers an ominous thread: the presence at the death scenes of the anthology Poems and Rhymes Around the World, all opened to the page where there appears an African chant, or “culling song.” This song turns out to be lethal when spoken or even thought in anyone's direction–and once it lodges in Streator's brain he finds himself becoming an involuntary serial killer. So he teams up with a real estate broker, one Helen Hoover Boyle–who specializes in selling haunted (or “distressed”) houses (wonderfully high turnover), and who lost a child to the culling song years before–for a cross-country odyssey to remove all copies of the book from libraries, lest this deadly verbal virus spread and wipe out human life. Accompanying them on this road trip are Helen's assistant, Mona Sabbat, an exquisitely earnest Wiccan, and her sardonic ecoterrorist boyfriend Oyster, who is running a scam involving fake liability claims and business blackmail. Welcome to the new nuclear family.
On one level, Lullaby is a chillingly pertinent parable about the dangers of psychic infection and control in an era of wildly overproliferated information: “Imagine a plague you catch through your ears . . . imagine an idea that occupies your mind like a city.” But it is also a tightly wound thriller with an intriguing premise and a suspenseful plot full of surprising twists and turns. Finally, because it is a Chuck Palahniuk novel, it is a blackly comic tour de force that reinforces his stature as our funniest nihilist and a contemporary seer.
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In his previous works, including the cult favorite Fight Club, Palahniuk has demonstrated a fondness for making statements about the condition of humanity, and he uses Lullaby like a blunt object to repeatedly overstate his generally dim view. Such dogmatic venom undermines the persuasiveness of his thesis about mass communication and free will, but thankfully, Palahniuk offers some respite here by allowing for sympathy and love, as well as through his razor-sharp humor, such as his mock listings for Helen's possessed properties: "six bedrooms, four baths, pine-paneled entryway, and blood running down the kitchen walls...." At such moments, Lullaby casts a powerful spell. --Ross Doll
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Doubleday (September 17, 2002)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385504470
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385504478
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.75 x 0.89 x 8.53 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #217,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It's a great, mysterious tale that gives thought to the power of words. Like all Palahniuk books, it's full of twists and turns, yet has a dark comedic feel. I would definitely recommend this book to any fan.
In true Palahniuk style, it is an allegory, but it is not so obvious that the reader is distracted. His style is smooth, yet somehow choppy, so Palahnuik fans will get their dose of his writing through this book.
The story is a powerful one, and I recommend this book highly to those looking for a 24 hour fix.