Lullaby was not a sleeper read
September 15, 2010 2 Comments
I recently finished Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby, which takes spot 14 on my “26 in 52 Challenge“. In usual Palahniuk style, his writing was riveting. It was hard for me to put the book down, which is why I probably ready it as fast as I did.
The book is about a journalist who’s doing a series of stories on crib deaths. He has to interview families and goes through their ordeals with them. Early on Palahniuk describes what the character went through in his early days as a journalist, having to take down every detail of the scene, or else he was going to get a mouthful from his editor. That’s important because while coming through one toddler’s room with the precision of a forensic specialist, he finds a bedtime tales book open to a lullaby on page 27 in more than one case where SIDS occurred.
Running with this as a possible story, he runs the poem by his editor, and next thing we know, he’s dead. Shortly after, he realizes the power he now wields, and tries to control it, but inevitably people anger him enough that he’s killing left, right and centre, for the smallest things. This new power reminds him about one of the people he tried to interview for one of his articles, so he pays her a visit. Eventually he finds out they both hold the same power in their hands, but their motives are much different.
They end up traveling across the country to find other copies of this book to destroy it, so no more “culling spells” are cast. They’re joined by two hippies, and all four become some definition of a family. As they continue traveling, there’s a power struggle as their viewpoints and motives clash with one another. That makes up the rest of the novel and book ends on a note that’s a bit of a cliffhanger, and feels unresolved.
One of the great themes throughout the book that Palahniuk touches on is the fact that “Big Brother” is shaping what we think and do each day. We think we’re doing things of our own free will, but really it was based on a reaction to a commercial we saw a week ago. While the plot seems a bit outlandish, with magic and spells, the basis is that we as a society should start thinking for ourselves instead of just letting our decisions be made for us. That was the message I got from it anyway. It’s what made the book for me – if you’ve read it, what was your take?
I rate Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk a 4/5.