Sunday, September 20, 2009

Title Sixty Six: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Ok, I'm totally going to cheat for a couple of posts, okay? From the author's very own Official Lullaby Site:

"Carl Streator is a solitary widower and a forty-ish 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 on the scene of these deaths 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. Their goal is 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 eco-terrorist boyfriend, Oyster, who is running a scam involving fake liability claims and business blackmail. Welcome to the new nuclear family. "

This was my first Palahniuk. (No, you cannot revoke my Pajiba card for that. It's in the rules that I've just made up.) I didn't really know what to expect, so I wasn't really surprised when I was completely blown away. I mean, damn, this dude can write. And somehow make you totally uncomfortable while keeping you so intrigued that you can't put the damn thing down. There were passages that made me actually squirm in my seat but I had to know what happened. None of the characters are likeable. In fact, they're all pretty much creepy and I felt like I needed a shower after I finished. But it was good. It wasn't so much a novel as a living thing, breathing words and images. I won't ever read it again, because it's too dark for me, but it is one of the best books I've read in a long time.

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